St. Ignatius FEST

St. Ignatius FEST

St. Ignatius FEST

As a Jesuit “works” we celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) each July 31st. This year, we’re having a particularly festive celebration under the white tent at Cheverus High School with food, live music, games, good fun – and YOU are invited! 

We hope you’ll join us for this inaugural St. Ignatius Fest from 4-7 at Cheverus. It’s a FREE event, but please register here, so we’re sure to have enough food:

https://cheverus.almabase-beta.com/e/st-ignatius-festival/

Welcome Fr. John Michalowski, S. J.

Welcome Fr. John Michalowski, S. J.

Welcome Fr. John Michalowski, S. J.

We are happy to welcome Fr. John Michalowski S.J. as the new parochial vicar at Our Lady of Hope Parish. He will arrive (actually, return, to Maine) in mid-May joining us
from St. Peter Church in Charlotte North Carolina where he has served as Parochial Vicar since 2016.

Fr. Michalowski entered the Society of Jesus in the then New England Province on September 1, 1973, the same day as Fr Paul; he was ordained to
the priesthood on June 20, 1981, and pronounced his final vows in June 1990.

Fr.Michalowski has served in a variety of roles in his time as a Jesuit, including serving as a religion teacher and chaplain at Cheverus here in Portland from Fall of 1982 to Spring of 1999 with a sabbatical in 1991 for Tertianship. After completing the associates’ program at Loyola in Guelph, Ontario, he became the director of Campion Renewal Center in Weston, MA until 2005. He was then pastor at Saints Mary and Joseph Parish in Salem, NH until 2016. Fr. Michalowski will replace Fr. Brian as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Hope Parish.

Fr. Brian remains Superior of the Jesuit Community of Maine and will remain active in our retreat ministries through the ACTS ministry and the Ignatian Partnership of Maine. He will also expand his role at Cheverus High School.

Fr Michalowski brings years of experience in parish and retreat center settings and will enable us to continue to grow and integrate the Ignatian ministries in Maine.

One Way of Living the Eucharist

One Way of Living the Eucharist

One Way of Living the Eucharist

“The Church must initiate everyone — priests, religious, and laity — into an ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.” — Pope Francis

A thought for reflection, especially during this Lenten season. How might we grow in our ability to experience and express accompaniment? Is that not one way of living the Eucharist?

Celebrating Our Jesuitness on the Feast of St. Ignatius

Celebrating Our Jesuitness on the Feast of St. Ignatius

Celebrating Our Jesuitness on the Feast of St. Ignatius

The feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), occurs on July 31 each year. For Our Lady of Hope, this feast provides an opportunity to consider what it means to us to call ourselves “a Jesuit Ministry.”

At the Thirty-First General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in 1975, we Jesuits asked ourselves this question, “What is it to be Jesuit?.” The answer that we gave was, “It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus as Ignatius was…To be a companion of Jesus today is to engage, under the standard of the cross, in the crucial struggle of our time, the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice that it includes” (GC 32 Decree 2, 1975).

Fifteen years later, as I began to respond to God’s Call in my life, I was deeply moved and inspired by this mission of the Society of Jesus – the service of faith and the promotion of justice remains for me an orienting principle.

Called as Ignatius Was

Ignatius Loyola’s story may be very familiar to many of us. Ignatius, a Spanish nobleman born in 1491, was wounded when a cannonball shattered his leg while he was defending the city of Pamplona from an invading army. Beginning during his recuperation and over the next decade, Ignatius experienced a profound conversion experience. In these years, Ignatius traveled widely. He begged, preached, and helped the poor as he traveled. His insights began to coalesce into the manual that became the Spiritual Exercises. The Spiritual Exercises are a series of biblical and non-biblical reflections designed to help individuals draw closer to God and to discern God’s call in their lives. He began to share these exercises with others and many began to have profound spiritual experiences. After being questioned by the Spanish Inquisition, Ignatius decided to complete his education – ending up at the University of Paris where he met the other men who would become the first companions – the original Jesuits.

Rooted in the Spiritual Exercises

Jesuit life is deeply rooted in these Spiritual Exercises and the answer the Jesuits gave to the question “what does it mean to be Jesuit” draws from the Exercises – which are divided into four periods referred to as weeks (but not necessarily a 7-day period):

  • The grace of the first week is a deep understanding of oneself as “a sinner loved by God.”
  • The grace of the second week is “accompanying Jesus on mission.”
  • The grace of the third week is accompanying Jesus through the events of his passion and death (the Standard of the Cross).
  • Finally, the grace of the fourth week is experiencing the joy and sharing the consolation of the risen Lord.

Responding to the Call today – On Mission for Justice

In 2008, at the conclusion of the Thirty-fifth General Congregation, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the delegates, saying in part, “As my Predecessors have said to you on various occasions, the Church needs you, relies on you and continues to turn to you with trust, particularly to reach those physical and spiritual places which others do not reach or have difficulty in reaching.”

What this Means for Our Lady of Hope

Our desire to join others in the struggle of faith and the struggle for justice is the basis of this parish’s decision to seek to be a welcoming parish – especially to those on the margins – members of the LGBTQ community, new Mainers, refugees, and those who may be separated and divorced. The challenges that Pope Benedict named as a context for GC-35 have only grown more challenging since that time. These challenges included social, political, and economic change; ethical, cultural, and environmental problems; and conflicts of all kinds.

The animating spirit – based in the Spiritual Exercises and the history of the Society of Jesus – asks us to focus on the now and to stand on that border between the sacred and secular – helping all to “find God in all things.” As a parish, we seek to share the graces of the Spiritual Exercises with others.

  • We seek to help all people to experience themselves as deeply loved.
  • We join in Jesus ministry of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God all around us.
  • We seek to respond particularly to places of human suffering as an orienting principle – confident that Christ crucified is present in those places.
  • We seek to do all of this a community that knows the Joy of the resurrection and is open to the guidance of the Spirit.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

Prayer and Conversation

Prayer and Conversation

Prayer and Conversation

Have you been considering refreshing your prayer life? Thinking about how nice it would be to be able to talk over insights? You’ll have the chance this fall. Our fellow parishioner, Cheryl Smith, is putting together an opportunity to pray with Sacred Scripture, developing a shared use of simple forms of prayers to deepen our experience and understanding of what Jesus is offering. And, over time, building a community that gathers together in prayer and conversation once or twice a month will be wonderful.

Cheryl is an experienced facilitator and prayer leader, most recently with the Sisters of St. Joseph.

In order to best get started, we need your help in determining the time of day for this in-person experience which will be held in the Parish Hall. For now, we’re aiming for once a month to get started.

Are there days and times listed here that would work for you?

  • Wednesday at 9:45 am (after Mass)
  • Wednesday at 2:00 pm
  • Friday at 9:45 am (after Mass)
  • Tuesday at 6:30 pm

If you would let us know by sending a message through the website contact form, which can be found here, we would appreciate it!

Four Things Needed For Justice: The Fruits of My Annual Retreat

Four Things Needed For Justice: The Fruits of My Annual Retreat

Four Things Needed For Justice: The Fruits of My Annual Retreat

Each year, Jesuits are expected to complete an eight-day retreat. This year, I completed a retreat offered by the Jesuit Anti-Racism Sodality (JARS) entitled “The God of Us All: Praying with Black Spirituality.” This retreat offered the participants “an opportunity to spend time in song, prayer, and community to experience the transformative nature of the Spirit moving through two deep traditions: Black Spirituality and Ignatian Spirituality.” These eight-days were a profoundly consoling time for me – I would say one of the most powerful eight day retreats I have ever completed.

Prayer Resources that Illustrate The Black Experience

Each day, we were given prayer resources that illustrated the Black experience. These resources included biographical material for seven witnesses, Toni Morrison, Sr. Thea Bowman, Mamie Till-Mobley & Emmett Till, James Baldwin, Fr. Augustus Tolton, Sr Mary Antona Ebo, F.S.M. and Bryan Stevenson. These witnesses are not in the order we encountered them on the retreat and I list Bryan Stevenson last because it was his witness that has stayed with me over the last month. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, social justice activist, law professor, and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. He is the author of several books including “Just Mercy.” The specific witness that moved me particularly and provided my “take home” grace for the retreat was a sermon that Mr. Stevenson delivered at the Washington National Cathedral on the first Sunday in Lent (February 14, 2016). The scripture passages that for this sermon were Micah 6:8 and 2 Cor 12. In this sermon, Mr. Stevenson outlines four things needed to do justice:

1. Get proximate to places of inequality
2. Change Narratives
3. Be Hopeful
4. Commit to doing uncomfortable things

Get proximate

Mr. Stevenson suggests that God calls us to get proximate to places of injustice or places that we have been taught to fear. Our proximity to these places has the potential to change us as we encounter the reality of those places. In my Jesuit formation I have been called to spend various amounts of time being proximate to the poor and to injustice – several months on the a poor neighborhood (now gentrified) in Boston and the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota as a novice; three years in the Bronx in my First Studies; the Anacostia section of Washigngton in my hospital training. Each of these encounters brought me face-to-face with my biases – the biases that were the root of my fear – and the reality of the good and faith-filled people who lived in those places that I would otherwise avoid. I notice that in each of these situations, I was assigned to those places – I did not choose to get proximate on my own. Mr. Stevenson’s challenge to me today is to find the places where God is calling me to get proximate to injustice.

Change the narrative

We can find power and witness when we get proximate to places of injustice, fear, neglect, or abuse and this power and witness allows us to move to the second thing: changing the narrative. My time on the reservation, in the Bronx, and with the poor in DC changed the narrative of fear and insecurity that I had about these places. While there might be much that was challenging and dangerous there, these were also places of love and community. The narratives that began to change for me on the retreat were narratives that I should feel guilt or shame for past beliefs – guilt and shame leave little space or energy for change. Rather, I discovered compassion for myself and others. The second narrative that changed was the narrative that suggested I had to “fix it.” Discovering compassion allowed me to find a proximate place to injustice and violence that allowed other narratives to be spoken – the narratives of those witnesses each day and the experiences of my fellow retreatants.

Get hopeful

In his sermon, Stevenson says, “Hope is what will get you to stand up when everyone else tells you to sit down; Hope will get you to speak when others tell you to be quiet.” When I told others I was going on an anti-racism retreat, I received many baffled looks; some expressions of fear. I know this – that having spent eight days listening to witnesses of the reality of racism in our world today left me hopeful. I feel hopeful that a long-look at the truth and a willingness to be changed will lead to change.

Commit to doing things that are uncomfortable

While I feel this hope, the retreat included many uncomfortable moments. These moments of discomfort included witnessing depictions of violence during slavery; the pictures of Emmitt Till and others following their lynchings; the treatment of other faith-filled people as they responded to God’s call but were treated as something less than human, like Fr. Augustus Tolton and Sister Mary Antona Ebo. The challenge that remains for me is where I am being called to be uncomfortable in Portland Maine – where are the places I am called to get proximate? To change narratives? To bring a hope filled presence for change?

I welcome others to join me in reflecting on these four things and the questions they bring up in you. Feel free to contact me at Brian.Conley@portlanddiocese.org or by calling the parish offices (207) 797-7026.

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

Skip to content