On August 15, 2019, thirteen Canadian Jesuits noted their 60th Anniversary as members of the Society of Jesus. Two members of this group – Charlie Pottie Pate, SJ and David Eley, SJ – have chosen to make a special pilgrimage to mark the occasion. They have graciously agreed to share their journal entries and photos with igNation which will post them once or twice a week.
We are now in Helsinki, Finland. We had to leave early, early this morning to catch flight to Helsinki. I woke up about 2 am….. having set the alarm for 4 am. But it was already getting light out. Finally I got up t 3 am and showered and finished my packing leisurely. With the light it seemed like it was 9 am. But once I got up I was good to go.
Fortunately I checked to see if David was up…. He had set his alarm for an hour later than needed in order to get to airport in time. But we were ready to go at 4:45 am! Those Trappist hours won’t seem so bad with this practice of “ getting to the train on time”.
It was an easy hour trip, with the change in time zone, one hour ahead (Russian time!) When we got to the Dominican priory where we were invited to stay, my friend Pekka R. was there to meet us and joined us for a brief breakfast with the two Dominicans, one Finnish, one from France. They run a Studium Catholicum in centre of Helsinki.
I was struck at a certain moment of how “ecumenical” this all was – two Dominicans (one Finnish, one French), one Lutheran pastor (Pekka) and two Jesuits! We chatted a lot about the history of Finland and its former ties with Russia but now more western looking.
Pekka, my Lutheran pastor friend (we met at ecumenical liturgical meetings in past 3 years) took on a small section of centre of Helinski – here the Lutheran Cathedral, quite impressive on outside, but more plain on inside. This contrasts with the Greek Orthodox cathedral on the other hill.
We went through the Senate plaza, huge plaza and then on to the Lutheran church house for all of Finland, where we had lunch and met some of Pekka’s co-workers. (He’s going to retire this summer).
Then we brought David back to the Priory and Pekka and I continued our walk through central Helsinki, visiting the market area (huge) where you can buy fruit, vegetables and even eat at these little tables close by. We took a walk through a beautiful park with statues of famous Finnish poets; up the Esplanade (pedestrian walk) to the Central station, the university and back again to the Priory.
A bustling city nestled in a beautiful harbor. Each of the Nordic countries have had a wonderful “seaport” feel about them, each quite different.
Said goodbye to my friend Pekka and after a short rest, David and I went to one of many restaurants along the harbor front. Again lots of people. The air was cooler off the water but still very pleasant sitting outside. Haven’t figured out what we’ll do tomorrow….but that’s tomorrow.