The “Maison Saint Ignace” in Marseille, a “refoundation” of the Jesuit presence

The Jesuit Province of French-speaking Western Europe (EOF) gave proof of its vitality and hope by organising a huge gathering of the Ignatian family on the occasion of All Saints Day. One of the bets, a successful one, was the choice of Marseille to bring together the 7,000 participants. In the heart of the city, in the midst of the real world. The superior of the Jesuits in Marseille talks to us about the choices the Society of Jesus has made and continues to make to serve the Church and the people of Marseille.

By Michel Joseph, SJ

“Tartarin, beaming, walked along, looking with wide eyes at this marvellous port of Marseilles which he was seeing for the first time, and which dazzled him.” – Alphonse Daudet, French writer

Marseille is open to the sea and welcomes inhabitants from the “three shores”: North Africa, the Near East and Provence. The Jesuit community of Marseille is delighted to see the Ignatian Gathering being organised in its city! The community was very much involved in the preparation. Recently relocated, it has chosen to continue to carry the beautiful name of “Notre Dame des Missions,” referring both to Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille and to the missionary past of the residence from which so many Jesuits left for Syria, the Near East and the Far East. The fresco integrated in the façade evokes the patronage of Saint Ignatius, the eternal pilgrim.


Today, the Jesuits of Marseilles are experiencing a kind of refoundation, with a strong awareness that building a community and a place of Ignatian animation is a new opportunity. The Province believes in the future of the Marseilles apostolates and of the Jesuit presence. It trusts the Jesuit community to inhabit, live and animate this very important project.

While having the same apostolic commitments it had before moving to a new neighbourhood, the community is experiencing important changes: ties to be sought with this neighbourhood and its social institutions; ties with the local and diocesan Church. In fact, the Church in Marseilles asks a lot of the community to accompany groups of lay people (including CLC,) to organise training courses and to take on the responsibility of animating the Diocesan Service for Spiritual Life.

The community, which only occupies the top two floors of a new five-storey building, still wishes to be able to welcome widely: visiting Jesuits and/or those on holiday, families, students for summer courses, and even, possibly, “colocs,“ students or young professionals.


The Joliette district of the new settlement has been undergoing major changes for several years: conversion of the old docks into shops and cultural spaces; new housing; renovation of the public transport service; etc. How far will these changes go? What will be the future for the immigrant populations who still live in unhealthy buildings? Let us also note the presence of mosques in this same neighbourhood. And looking beyond the current building: is it conceivable that Jesuits from the community could live in the area near the Saint Mauront College, which is also characterised by the precariousness of the population?

But first of all we are looking to establish the “Maison Saint Ignace.” For the Marseilles community, the creation and operation of this centre is certainly a great adventure. Its future is linked to the development of cooperation with the Ignatian family, not only as a place for initiatives, meetings, celebrations and reflections on current events, but also in co-management and co-animation, as far as possible. The community proposes four aims for this future centre: to dialogue, to celebrate, to accompany and to train.

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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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