In the days of St Francis Xavier it took weeks, or even months, to traverse the world in order to bring the message of God’s love. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, this can be done instantly. Seven years ago, the Irish Jesuits set up Sacred Space (www.sacredspace.ie), a website which guides people through daily prayer as they sit at their computers. Since it was launched, Sacred Space has been visited more than 17 million times.
The current editor of Sacred Space is Gerry Bourke SJ, who was one of the first two Irish Jesuits to join the international Jesuit mission in Japan in 1951, five hundred years after the death of St Francis Xavier. He taught for many years in Sophia University in Tokyo, which is run by the Jesuits. Fr Gerry returned to Ireland in 2001, and he sees his work with Sacred Space as truly missionary. “The mission of Sacred Space,” he says, “has been described as ‘bringing God’s word to the ends of the earth in a gentle, non-coercive way’ – surely a mission dear to the heart of St. Francis Xavier.”