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Gardiner Street Parish: A hub of activity

The Parish of Saint Francis Xavier’s Church in Gardiner Street, Dublin, have published their winter newsletter featuring uplifting stories, news on clubs and events, an active lay community, Ignatian spirituality and lots more. They are planning and looking forward to the Ignatian Anniversary Year 2021-2022 with various activities to engage Jesuits, their Partners in Mission and the general public. Parish Priest Gerry Clarke SJ also reflects on changing circumstances of the Jesuit ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Click here for the Gardiner Street Parish newsletter ».

In one uplifting story, parishioner Callum Douglas describes the pleasure of having his grandmother stay in the family home during a period when the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted. He says:

“And what life she breathed into us, the whole family, once Granny was sat at the dinner table, or outside on those last few sunny days. We were smiles and chatter all week.”

Callum reports on the family knitting workshop that his grandmother organised and says, “I am now the proud owner of a foot and a half of scarf which I intend to finish well before Christmas”.

Cathy McEvoy of the Gardiner Street Gospel Choir (GSGC) gives an update on the choir’s activities on their 20th anniversary year. In reference to adapting to the pandemic, she says:

“We’ve tried, and will continue trying, to find safe rehearsal alternatives, from the ridiculous to the sublime; online practises, singing in parks, and – a hot favourite so far – a “drive-in” rehearsal, with singers safely participating from their cars.

There’s no small measure of fear with the dark days of winter coming, but after 20 years together we can safely say that GSGC is nothing if not persistent, and we will find a way through this.”

One of the many events during Advent is the Gardiner Street Movie Club. The theme this year is on watching and waiting with hope, organised by Fr Jake Martin SJ on Tuesdays at 7pm via Zoom video conference. People are invited to watch the films on YouTube beforehand in their own time followed by a discussion on Zoom.

The schedule of the films for the remaining evenings is Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006) on 8 December, City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931) on 15 December and general discussion on 22 December. People can email [email protected] at any time to get a link to the discussion via Zoom.

The Faber Companions, a lay community whose ministry focuses on sharing Ignatian spirituality with young people, show how they are working with sixth class students from Gardiner Street Primary School. They say:

“Some time is spent simply learning to share about personal faith, as well as in quiet contemplation, but our focus is social rather than catechetical. The Companions will offer additional materials and support during the year to any interested parents, especially those whose children are preparing for Confirmation.”

They hope to invite students from all schools in the Parish in the future.

Leszek Wilczak SJ gives an account of an Ignatian spirituality initiative for adults. Retreat in Daily Life ‘On the way to Bethlehem’ is an invitation to a deeper reflection and prayer during the time of Advent. He says:

“Every Tuesday after Mass at 7pm there will be a conference that will help us understand Ignatian spirituality and meditation better and enter deeper into prayer. There is also an opportunity to avail of spiritual direction for the duration of the retreat.”

Fr Richard O’Dwyer SJ reports on planned restoration work on the Church. He is hopeful that the first phase of the renovations, which include restoring the roof, walls, and windows and to replace the rainwater system, will be completed by September or October, 2021.

Reflecting on changing circumstances of the Jesuit ministry during the pandemic, Parish Priest Gerry Clarke SJ says:

“I’m really going to miss the Gospel Choir Christmas Concert this year. It’s such an important event in this locality, bringing warmth and joy to Gardiner Street.

We can admit 100 to each Christmas Eve Mass which is better than nothing, but it’s not the same. So we are pinning our hopes on next year while catering for those who book ahead… not the same as rocking up on Christmas Eve.

But people are resourceful and will create little rituals at home for Christmas: an Advent Wreath; lighting a prayer candle before a family Crib… little gestures that touch this cold December with the warmth of love and gentleness.”

Ignatian Year 2021-2022

The Parish Committee are busy planning for the Ignatian Year to commemorate 500 years since the conversion of St Ignatius Loyola in 2021 and 400 years since the canonisation of St Ignatius and St Francis Xavier in 2022. They hope it will an opportunity for Jesuits, their Partners in Mission and members of the general public to come together and grow in faith.

Activities will include spiritual retreats, conferences and workshops, province events, liturgical celebrations, Ignatian pilgrimages, publications, momentos, media strategies, and liaising with European provinces and Jesuits worldwide. More information will be posted on the Gardiner Street website next year.

Fr Gerry Clarke says:

“Next year will bring new events; hopefully an especially creative Novena of Grace, and ceremonies to celebrate the key moments in the life of St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.”

Click here for the Gardiner Street Parish website ».