A Ministry of Reconciliation from Sea to Sea
In July 2018, for the first time in more than ninety years, there will be a single and bilingual Canadian Jesuit province. To prepare for this historic occasion, it is helpful to reflect on current Jesuit activities in Canada and Haiti, which will be part of the new province.
Today, about 260 Jesuits are serving in diverse ministries across Canada, in Haiti and around the world, assisted by many lay collaborators and some seventy Jesuits from other provinces. Whether in spirituality, pastoral work, social justice or education, they are living out the call of the 36th General Congregation to promote reconciliation on three levels: with God, with each other and with creation itself.
For all Jesuit works, the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as outlined in the Spiritual Exercises, is foundational. Ignatian spirituality offers an incarnational approach to faith that is transformative.
This is promoted in five Jesuit parishes across Canada (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Guelph, Toronto and St. John’s) and at spirituality centres such as the Villa Saint-Martin (Pierrefonds, QC), the Ignatian Centre (Montreal), the Centre de spiritualité Manrese (Quebec City), Villa Loyola (Sudbury), the Ignatian Jesuit Centre (Guelph), the Manresa-Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre (Pickering) and the St. Ignatius Adult Education Centre (Winnipeg).
Ignatian networks, such as Christian Life Communities / CVX and the Jesuit Spirituality Apostolate (Vancouver), complement the work of such centres. In recent years, Loyola House (Guelph) has pioneered an ecological understanding of the Exercises, an approach also promoted at the Centre Berthe-Rousseau near Montreal.
In downtown Montreal, the Church of the Gesu, dedicated to the Sacred Heart – a devotion encouraged by the Apostleship of Prayer – is home to the Centre de créativité and offers much potential as a Jesuit centre in the heart of Canada’s second-largest city.
By transforming the human person, Ignatian spirituality is a key tool to social transformation, helping build God’s kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace. Jesuits and lay collaborators live out “a faith that does justice” through the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice (Toronto) and the Centre justice et foi (Montreal).
Through Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) and Missions jésuites, Canadians are connected to global Jesuit networks such as Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service (JRMS). Jesuit Volunteers Canada (JVC) and participation of students of Jesuit institutions in the annual Ignatian Teach-In in Washington, DC have done much to attract youth to this important ministry. Moreover, the Jesuit Communication Project uses social media to convey Ignatian values to a vast online audience.
In education, Jesuits have remained faithful to their tradition of “forming men and women for others”. Today, Jesuits are involved in seven schools and six postsecondary institutions across Canada. These include two high schools – St. Paul’s High School (Winnipeg) and Loyola High School (Montreal) – as well as St. Bonaventure’s College (St. John’s, NL).
Jesuits maintain a link with College Jean-de-Brébeuf (Montreal) and College Saint-Charles-Garnier (Quebec City), whose alumni have long had an impact on Quebec society.
Western Canada is home to two new Nativity schools – Mother Teresa Middle School (Regina) and Gonzaga Middle School (Winnipeg) – where Indigenous youth benefit from a holistic education.
For many years, Camp Ekon (near Toronto) and Camp Lac Simon (near Montreal) have helped underprivileged youth experience the joys of summer camp.
At the postsecondary level, Jesuits administer Campion College (Regina), which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017, and Regis College (Toronto), which serves as one of three theology schools in the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States (JCU).
Jesuits also provide chaplaincy at St. Mark’s College (Vancouver), the University of Sudbury and Memorial University (St. John’s, NL). Specialized institutes include the Jesuit Centre for Catholic Studies (St. Paul’s College, Winnipeg), the Lonergan Research Institute (Regis College) and the Canadian Institute of Jesuit Studies, connected to the Archive of the Jesuits in Canada (Montreal). Based in Montreal, Mer et monde provides youth with formation opportunities for international service projects.
In light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), reconciliation in the Canadian context has particular relevance to relations with Indigenous peoples. Inspired by the example of the Canadian Martyrs, whose work is honoured at the Martyrs’ Shrine (Midland, ON), Jesuits have served among First Nations for over 150 years in Northern Ontario.
Here, they provide an important ministry of presence on and around Manitoulin Island and Thunder Bay. The Anishinabe Spiritual Centre (Espanola, ON) has formed lay leaders of the Indigenous Church since the 1980s, while Jesuits elsewhere have begun newer ministries. The recent founding of Nativity schools in Regina and Winnipeg, cited above, are exciting initiatives in this regard.
Regrettably, Indigenous people make up a disproportionately large share of Canada’s prison population. Jesuits are reaching out to them through Quixote House (Winnipeg) and Friends on the Outside (FOTO), an ex-inmate support group in Regina.
In Ottawa, Jesuits are active in Kateri Ministries, which serves Indigenous Catholics. Like all Jesuit works, these are seeking to respond, each in its own way, to the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action.
Through parishes and schools, retreat houses and social justice centres, Jesuits and their friends are active agents of reconciliation, working with people of good will to build bridges rather than walls. Thank you for your support in helping promote right relationships with God, with each other – particularly the marginalized – and with creation itself.