In the Fall 2010 issue of Jesuit Journeys, Jesuit Michael Rossmann describes his community’s new “Hearts on Fire” retreats for young adults. During the summer months, a group of young Jesuit priests and scholastics travel from city to city, opening the treasures of Ignatian spirituality to eager audiences.
Some excerpts from Rossmann’s article:
“It was deeply exciting to share our spirituality. I did not completely recognize just how helpful the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian spirituality were for people today until a retreatant expressed how she felt as if she were the only one in the room as we went through the ideas of consolation and desolation and Ignatius rules for discernment in that it was connecting with her on such a deep, personal level. . . .
“We targeted young adults in their 20s and 30s. Many expressed they had gone on retreats during high school and college but had not been to a retreat in a long time and had never encountered something like this.We shared the Spiritual Exercises and the spirituality of the Apostleship of Prayer, and people found it remarkably fresh and relevant.
“Really, we were simply messengers. We discussed Ignatian contemplation, led them through a Gospel scene, and then gave them time to practice on their own–an experience many found deeply valuable and something that they could integrate into their own prayer lives. While we expressed this through our own voices with particular stories and insights from our own experiences, for the most part, we simply shared with others the immensely rich gifts that lie at the heart of our Jesuit spirituality. . . .
“There were four or five of us Jesuits there each weekend to give talks, play music, and lead prayer. . . . Not only did we have a blast hitting the road, but we grew in community and in our own vocations. And people saw this. It was illuminating to read many evaluations that noted our evident camaraderie and how this contributed to a great retreat atmosphere.”
Click here for a blog post by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J. of the Apostleship of Prayer on the “Hearts on Fire” retreats. And check out this vocation website for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Jesuits.
In reading the CARA report this week on the men who will be ordained as priests this year, I noticed that among those responding to the survey, the Dominicans and Jesuits tied for the most ordinations by a religious community this year with nine.
Along those lines, check out this video, courtesy of Creative Minority Report, concerning Dominican vocations in the St. Joseph province, where they had a staggering 21 young men enter novitiate last summer.
When Fr. Joseph Eddy was looking for a religious community to join ten years ago, there were several characteristics that just had to be there. He found these and more in the Order of Mercy.
“I was looking for a community that was Marian, Eucharistic, and faithful to the Magisterium,” explained the 33-year-old priest, who was ordained in 2008.
“It was amazing to find this ancient order which possessed all the characteristics that I was looking for,” said Fr. Joseph, who serves as the vocation director for the order, which has as its formal title, The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.
The U.S. branch of the order boasts of ten men in formation against a backdrop of 22 solemnly professed friars. “That’s a healthy sign,” Fr. Joseph said. “The older orders such as ours tend to struggle to get vocations. God is blessing us with these new men, and we look toward a grace-filled future.”
The order’s friars, which consist of brothers and priests, wear crisp white habits, pray the Divine Office together, and live a community life based on the Rule of St Augustine. The men teach in schools, administer parishes, and engage in other apostolic work.
No wonder the order is doing well. Traditional groups are those that are attracting vocations today, according to a 2009 study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.