Be With Us in Caring

Be With Us in Caring

Be With Us in Caring

This parish-wide initiative lines up beautifully with the worldwide work of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

In a recent letter to all Jesuits, Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits quoted the most recent General Congregation – or GC36 –  (the highest governing body in the Jesuits – there have been 36 since the order’s founding in 1540). Both documents describe a transforming encounter with the mercy of God as being at the heart of Ignatian spirituality This encounter with the mercy of God moves us to a generous personal response. “The experience of the merciful gaze of God on our weakness and sinfulness humbles us and fills us with gratitude, helping us to become compassionate ministers to all. Filled with the fire of Christ’s mercy, we can inflame those we meet.” (GC 36, Degree 1, paragraph 19).

As with all ministries of the Society of Jesus, Our Lady of Hope Parish seeks to be a place where everyone can encounter the profound mercy of God and where all will be moved to act with compassion in the world.

How do we show this care and compassion?

We do so by “Living the Eucharist, and Becoming a Beacon of Hope.” In the brochure that we recently sent out, we describe three activities that help us to show this care and compassion:
1. Coming to Know Jesus as a Friend
2. Celebrating God’s Love For Us
3. Feeding, Connecting, Healing.

In inviting others to come to know Jesus as a friend or to deepen that friendship, we hope to invite everyone to a transformative encounter with God’s mercy. We celebrate that transformative encounter throughout our lives – from 39 baptisms to over 80 services for those who have died. The twenty-seven ministries, close to 100 liturgical ministers, the many donations to charity and the service provided through organizations like the Knights of Columbus give evidence that the encounter with the merciful love of God has elicited a generous response from many in our parish. In the Society of Jesus we often describe these ministries as cura personalis – translated care of the whole person.

On the fourth page on the inside of that brochure we include information on income and expenses. Very often people think that issues like dollars and sense are secondary to the work of cura personalis. In the Society of Jesus, this fourth page is a part of what we call cura apostolica – translated care of the organization or apostolate. The Jesuits see Our Lady of Hope Parish as an apostolate.

Care for Mission: People, Communities, and Organizations

In 2020, Arturo Sosa, SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, wrote a letter to the whole Society entitled “Care in the governance of the life-mission of the Society in this era of change.” In this letter, Fr. Sosa emphasized the need for unity between cura personalis and cura apostolica. Fr. Sosa traces both our care for one another and our founding institutions to that transformational encounter with God’s mercy described in the GC36. From the very founding of the Society of Jesus by Ignatius Loyola, we have had one single cura that is care for our mission. This care for mission focuses on persons, communities, and works. Care for the whole person and care of the organization must be united for us to carry out the mission.

We invite you to be with us in encountering the merciful love of God. We invite you to be with us in a generous response to that encounter. We invite you to be with us in living the Eucharist and becoming a beacon of hope. We invite you to join us in caring for one another (cura personalis) and caring for Our Lady of Hope Parish that helps to facilitate this encounter and to make this encounter available to all (cura apostolica).

Fr. Brian Conley, S.J.

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.

Novena of Grace

Novena of Grace

Novena of Grace

Our Lady of Hope Parish is again joining Jesuit-connected parishes and schools around the world in the Novena of Grace from March 4-12. A novena is a period of nine days of prayer for a specific intention and is a form of prayer dating back to the beginnings of the Church. The Acts of the Apostles tells us the friends of Jesus gathered in prayer for nine days before the first Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit, considered the “birth” of the Church.

The Novena of Grace is prayed in honor of St. Francis Xavier, S.J., friend of St. Ignatius, one of the Founders of the Society of Jesus, and the great missionary to Asia. It ends on March 12 which is the date of the canonization (1622) of Xavier, Ignatius, St. Isadore, St. Philip Neri, and St. Teresa of Avila. This Novena gained the name “Novena of Grace” because so many people reported that prayers offered during it had been answered.

The Novena prayer will be offered at all Masses at Our Lady of Hope from March 4-12.

There’s more! On Monday (March 6), Wednesday (March 8), and Thursday (March 9th) at 7 PM for about a half hour or so,  we’ll be hosting some online time. In addition to the Novena prayer, we’ll have a chance to have a conversation with ideas important in the Ignatian vision: friendship, discernment and spiritual freedom.

We hope you’ll join us in making this Novena – and for some time together online. You’ll find the link here. The Meeting ID is 850 0254 8959. Passcode: K1GB86 We’ll see you in the waiting room and let you in!!

Novena of Grace Prayer:
St. Francis Xavier – Novena of Grace
” I join with you Saint Francis in bowing before the God of all Creation. When I look at the great things you did during life, I see what marvels can be achieved by a person blessed by God. I join with you in praising God and giving thanks for all the good things I have been given.
Dear Saint Francis, please pray to God for me and ask that I may live and die in God’s favor. Please ask God for me for (_____________________), provided of course, that this would be good for me. In the end, my only wish is for whatever give glory to God and is good for my health in body, mind, and spirit. Amen.”

In the spirit of the Novena, if you believe your Novena prayers have been answered, we invite you to let us know so that we may give thanks.

Apostolic Planning – Guided by the Holy Spirit

Apostolic Planning – Guided by the Holy Spirit

Apostolic Planning – Guided by the Holy Spirit

There are four working fields, or Universal Apostolic Preferences, to which the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) will pay special attention and in which they will invest a significant portion of their various resources over the next few years. They are: Showing the Way to God, Walking with the Excluded, Journeying with Youth, and Caring for our Common Home. They provide context for planning and actions undertaken by Jesuits around the globe.

On September 24, 2022, members of the parish and parish staff joined with representatives from St. Brigid’s School, Cheverus High School, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC), and the Ignatian Spirituality Partnership of Maine (all pictured here) to participate in the United States East (UEA) Province of the Society of Jesus’ Apostolic Planning Process. In preparation for this day, each member of this group had spent hours prayerfully considering material provided by the province throughout the summer. The goal of the day was “to provide Fr. Joseph O’Keefe, S.J., Provincial of the UEA province and his staff in deploying human, physical, and financial resources for the greater praise and service of God and to live out the four Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Global Society of Jesus more fully.”

Thirteen similar gatherings in English and four in Spanish were held throughout the UEA, which stretches from Maine to Georgia and as far west as Scranton PA. Also, Jesuit Communities throughout the Province all gathered for three similar sessions throughout the fall. The summaries of these meetings have been provided to province staff members who will formulate an apostolic plan to help guide the UEA through the next decade. You can learn more about the how the USA East Province will grow in the coming years through this video on their website.

Much gratitude to all involved!

Fr. Brian Conley, SJ

A Break from the Busy

A Break from the Busy

A Break from the Busy

The signs that the season is changing are all around us. I had to scrape my car windows for the first time this morning. People are talking about the first snowfall of the season. The TV ads have changed from politics to Christmas. But what season are we entering? In the secular world, we have already entered the Christmas season with an emphasis on gift giving, parties, and connections with family and friends. We all know that this makes the month between Thanksgiving and December 25th a busy and hectic time. This secular Christmas time ends on December 25.

In the Catholic world, we are entering the season of Advent. This coming Sunday, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King – the last Sunday of the Liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent bringing in the next year. Descriptions of the Advent season often include words like “expectant waiting,” “reflective preparation,” and “solemn.” In ancient times, the Advent season lasted 40-days, much like Lent. In the Catholic Christian world, the Christmas season begins on December 24 and ends on January 6th with the feast of the Epiphany (the 12 days of Christmas that we will sing about between now and December 24!).

Our Lady of Hope, Cheverus High School, and the Ignatian Partnership of Maine are offering a way to make space for the reflective, preparatory aspects of Advent without completely forgoing the fun and connections found in the secular Christmas season. We don’t want to give you more to do in this time – to make a busy season even busier. Instead, we want to give you a 15-minute break from the busy each day – a time to stop and reflect on the Gospel readings of the day as the Church prepares for the coming of Christ. We will introduce two styles of prayer important in Ignatian Spirituality – Ignatian Contemplation and Lectio Divina.

In addition, we are inviting you to share the journey with others through two sessions of small group faith sharing. We invite you to integrate the prayer experience into your life by meeting with a spiritual director twice. These times will serve as a small introduction to these practices for those who have not done them before and an opportunity to deepen the experience for those familiar with these practices.

We hope you will register and join us for an orientation session on Monday November 28th, at 7 PM on Zoom. To get started, you’ll find the registration here at this link.

Brian Conley, SJ

Listening in Prayer

Listening in Prayer

Listening in Prayer

“What is God’s love? It is not something vague, some generic feeling. God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ.” – Pope Francis

THE MISSION CONTINUES –  If you, or someone you know, has ever considered serving God’s people, the Church, as a Jesuit, then the Society of Jesus invites you to pray and discern if your passions and desires may lead you to a life with us.
For almost 500 years Jesuits have been serving the Church as “men on mission.”  Through prayer, we aim to orient our own passions and desires with God’s desires for the Church and the world.
To explore if God is calling you to serve in Christ’s mission as a Jesuit brother or priest, please visit our Vocation Website We are ready to help you to discern our Jesuit life, AMDG Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (“to the Greater Glory of God”).

Eucharistic Adoration and Prayer
The USA East Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) are uniting in prayer in the Real Presence of Jesus on the weekend of November 5th and 6th – up and down the East Coast. Here, on Sunday evening November 6th, following the Sunday 5:00 PM Mass, Fr Brian Conley, SJ will lead a half hour of Eucharistic Adoration and prayer at St. Joseph Church. This is a good time to bring to the Lord any concern or joy you may have in your heart.

Along with our personal prayers, we will be asking the Holy Spirit to guide those men and woman who may be discerning a call to serve the Church as priests religious or pastoral leaders. We especially invite prayers for those whom God may be drawing to consider the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) as a vocation. Is the Lord inviting you, a member of our parish, to follow Him in one of these ways? 

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