In Marseille, a specific path for families

The Ignatian Family Gathering that was held from 29 October to 1 November offered a rich “Family Programme”. This was a rather unusual initiative for a Jesuit-sponsored meeting, but it was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of openness shown by the French-speaking Western European Province (EOF).

We talked with the leader of this project, Véronique Gresset, Family Ministry Coordinator, EOF Province.

Véronique Gresset, you have just accompanied the programme for families at the Ignatian Family Gathering in Marseille. What did you offer?

The Ignatian gathering in Marseille was designed to be family-friendly: we wanted to fully integrate the rhythm of a family with young children or teenagers into this large gathering of nearly 7,000 people. It was a real challenge! We had to devise a flexible method and give it good support. So we had special workshops and vigils, we adapted prayers, and we created many “crews”, each one composed of three families and a Jesuit - they went sailing together as a regatta and enjoyed many stopovers together!


Is family ministry part of the tradition of the Province of French-speaking Western Europe?

The Province has much expertise and a long tradition of educating young people and couples, but family ministry is something more than that. The Church has always insisted strongly on providing a special ministry to families, and this is quite in keeping with what Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia. Father Provincial has today encouraged us to value what is already being done and to coordinate it better, but he also wants us to develop simple, joyful new proposals that are creatively adapted to realities of today’s families.

Does Ignatian spirituality have its own treasures that can help families, and were you able to draw on them during the Marseille meeting?

Ignatian spirituality is the art of not overlooking one’s own existence but of taking the time to savor what is good in it, to give it a name, and to decide accordingly. Well, this is what forms the basis of quality family time, when we try to listen attentively to each other in order to find ways to progress together. Ignatian spirituality is also a very deliberate way of walking with the Christ of the Gospels, and this makes family members regard one another with benevolence and expectation. It encourages a type of authority that liberates and give everyone confidence in an open, diversified world. During the “Family Programme” in Marseille, there was plenty of space for interiority and listening to the Word.


By inviting families to “go out into the deep with Ignatius”, what link did you make with the theme of the Ignatian Year, “Seeing all things new in Christ”?

“All things” means the world and the Church today. We have the exciting task of unveiling this world for our children, of revealing it to them “in Christ” so that they can see its beauties and its dramas as Christ himself sees them. Often enough, we find, it is our young people - children or teenagers - who reveal it to us! Today Christ invites us to renew our love and respect for Creation, and this is an adventure magnificently suited to the family dimension.

In his encyclical Laudato si', Pope Francis makes an urgent appeal for us to dedicate ourselves to valuing relationships (which are more precious than things) and respecting people (who are not simply individuals), He urges us to think in terms of covenant and not just the usual commercial give-and-take, and he invites us to do this by seeking out new paths “in the deep”. in dialogue with others. Now, where will all this be learned if not first of all in the family? The time in Marseille was for celebration and encounters, and in a very simple way that is what we tried to make it. We hope that the “family encounter” has given rise to new ideas and fresh proposals.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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