British Jesuit Andrew Cameron-Mowat is parish priest in Farm St Church Mayfair. It’s a long way from there to Moyross, Limerick, one of the most deprived urban areas in Ireland where he has spent a week working with the Moyross PP, Tony O’Riordan SJ and his fellow Irish Jesuit Jim Culliton and Weggert Molenaar of the Dutch province. They’ve been helping Tony with parish activities and acting as prayer guides to the people of Moyross along with parishioners from the Dominican and Redemptorist parishes in Limerick city.
The group were warmly hosted by the Della Strada community of Jesuits living who live in Dooradoyle, just beside Crescent College Comprehensive SJ. The school has its roots in the earliest education ministry established by the Jesuits in Ireland.
Andrew Cameron-Mowat has also worked for many years in a working class parish in Birmingham and is familiar with the lives of people on the margins who are afflicted by poverty and its attendant problems. So he was really heartened by the openness of the people they met, their desire to be taught new ways of prayer and spiritual guidance and the warmth of their welcome for the Jesuit team – sentiments echoed by Weggert Molenaar of Holland.
Tony O’Riordain who headed up the team was particularly pleased with the numbers who turned up for the prayer guidance. “We had a lot more people turning up on the night than had actually signed up to do so when we first advertised the event.” Jim Culliton described it as ‘a privilege’ to be part of the lives of the people who opened up to them and shared their worries and problems as well as their hopes and wishes for the future.
He was also inspired by the actual process of working together with Jesuits from other provinces. He said it was somewhat but not completely surprising that as they all met together they were able to start off on a level deeper than would be expected with a random group of people coming together. “Our formation, our training as Jesuits meant that we had an understanding of ourselves as part of the universal Society of Jesus, not even just as part of four different provinces. I think everyone was delighted that we could communicate with each other so easily at a deep level and so quickly – even though on a human level we were only just getting to know each other.”
As well as talk there was music and Andrew Cameron-Mowat exercised his music ministry in Moyross church, playing the organ and leading the people in singing as cantor. In the words of Jim Culltion, the whole experience in Moyross has been “just terrific”.