Accompanying students: a priority for Czech Jesuits

Father General Arturo Sosa is visiting the Province of Bohemia, whose borders coincide with those of the Czech Republic. During the first part of his journey, he is in Moravia, in the east. This is a region where the Catholic tradition is stronger than in the west or north, where the phenomenon of secularisation has been more widespread. In two university towns, the Jesuits give priority to the accompaniment of university students. We asked two Jesuit chaplains to tell us about their work.

Jan Regner is the chaplain at the university parish in Olomouc. He tells us about the challenges facing young people and how “Ignatian guidance” can help them.

“Young people often face pressures that cause existential angst. Technological progress and social media have brought new possibilities, but also new difficulties: various forms of addiction, the cult of the body or a secularized way of life. For young believers, modern technology offers a number of attractions that turn their attention away from traditional Church structures and towards alternative forms of spirituality.

They often experience great inner tension. On the one hand, they are under the pressure of external demands from parents, teachers or Church authorities; on the other hand, they are consumed by the desire to achieve success according to their own plans. However, an excess of unrealistic demands hand in hand with their own fragility often leads them to painful disappointments and identity crises, sometimes even to depression.


Activities we organize in our university centre promote personal and spiritual growth. They are attended by students of various fields, mostly from Christian families, but also some non-believers. Our goal is to create an open and cheerful community where young people could find an opportunity to experience the joy of faith and the joy of being together. Our Christian community provides a safe space in which they can openly share their concerns, doubts, thoughts and feelings. We encourage them to start from gratitude, a way that Saint Ignatius himself experienced. Ignatius, looking at his life, was always trying to see God’s presence. He taught how to pray the examen, which always begins with an expression of gratitude. That is why we try to teach our students to be grateful and to see the beauty even in the small things they experience in their lives.”

Petr Hruška, chaplain at the Catholic University Movement in Brno (MUCB), describes the student population and talks about how young people live out their faith.

“From October to May, Brno, with its 80,000 students, is a very lively university town, day and night. But the number of students who are believers is very modest in a country where 91% of young people do not identify with any religion. Of the remainder, 7% say they are Catholic. And we have the feeling that the pandemic has further reduced the number of young believers.

While this does not sound very optimistic, there is an interesting trend: the number of believing university students is increasing. A fascinating trend in a consumer society in which the Church is often perceived as an enemy of the State, a thief, a paedophile ring, a group of crazies or lunatics. The last statement is more or less correct... We remember that the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “If we are fools, it is for God’s sake”.


Another trend emerging in Brno among young believers - confirmed by a survey conducted by the Bishops’ Conference - is that they appreciate community but in large groups, whereas small groups where people share and deepen their faith are rarely frequented. Their faith experience is more emotional. They don’t often read the Bible or meditate on its texts.

This is the context in which the students of Brno involved in the activities of the Catholic University Movement of which I am chaplain live. In our student community, we therefore seek to respond to these challenges by organising various events of both spiritual and social nature. The MUCB community is open to all those who are interested in sharing their lives with others with whom they can find common ground.”

Look at the wonderful photos illustrating the activities of the Olomouc Student Center. Most of them were taken by the association of religious photographers Člověk a víra (Man and Faith).

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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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