Father General visits Manresa House, the international novitiate in Birmingham
On the second day of Father Sosa’s visit to Great Britain, he made his third stop in Birmingham, located in the Midlands, after leaving Wales. The programme was packed with activities. Six years ago, during the 40th anniversary of the construction of the novitiate of the British Province in Birmingham, a decision was made to rebuild it. The aim was to provide better accommodations for novices coming from various European countries. The current Novice Master, Fr. Simon Bishop, shared some details about the house and his ongoing project.
“On the feast of St Andrew 2020 the building work began and,
after two years as temporary lodgers, thanks to the generosity of the local
seminary, we returned to celebrate our first Mass on the feast of St Andrew
2022. The first Jesuit novitiate was based at Sant’Andrea al Quirinale in Rome and the person of St Andrew
continues to be a good inspiration for Jesuit novices. In the Gospel, this
saint does not take the “lime-light”; he notices the needs of the people who
are tired and hungry. Equally importantly, he notices and values the small
gifts of a young person and has the faith to encourage him to approach Jesus
himself for those gifts to be transformed. It is in this Spirit, the Spirit
which blows through the Universal Apostolic
Preferences of the Society of Jesus of today, that the novices are formed.
The English-speaking novitiate in Birmingham is based in a large industrial city with universities, hospitals and prisons, in an extensive multi-cultural and multi-faith population, with numerous centres for refugees and asylum seekers. The Jesuit community and the novices, in particular, are a part of these communities. How wonderful, then, that in the 400th anniversary of the British Province - and it must be added, also, of the 400th anniversary of the Bohemian Province where the Englishman and Jesuit, St Edmund Campion, and another Jesuit, the Scotsman St John Ogilvie, did their novitiates - Father General has come to bless the “new” Manresa House for the future life-mission of the Society of Jesus. At the moment, the novitiate serves Britain, Ireland and the Czech and Slovak Provinces as well as the Region of the Low Countries. In a time of war and in the aftermarth of Brexit, how important it is that those entering the Society in this international novitiate can pray and work together for reconciliation, as did the First Companions, who were from different nations.
As our Mission statement, created by our novices, puts it:
‘Manresa House in Harborne,
Birmingham, aims to be a place where Jesuit novices grow in the life of the
Spirit. They become able to discern the promptings of God and so to recognise
the darkest and brightest elements in ourselves and in our world. It is a place
where novices practise and grow in the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice
and courage, as well as the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. It
is a place of safety and sanctuary, but also one of struggle and wilderness,
both preparing and initiating its members for a life of complete surrender to
God in service to God’s world.’”
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