‘A Jesuit School – What to Expect?’ was the topic addressed by Donal Neary SJ at ‘Elements Parent Day’ in Clongowes Wood College SJ, on Sunday 10 November 2019. Donal began by telling the parents of the first-year students about his own journey into the Jesuits and mentioned some of the different works he was involved including his work with young people, his role as chaplain in the Mater Dei Institute, Parish Priest of Gardiner St and now Editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger. Along with his various ministeries, Donal also wrote several popular books including Liturgies for Young People and a number of reflections on the various gospels.
Many of the current stories on the Clongowes website served Donal well as good examples of what characterizes a Jesuit education. These included reports on various school-led activities and events such as the annual Lourdes pilgrimage, the Transition Year Social Outreach programme, and the Clongowes Duck Push for Our Lady of Lourdes Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
As well as these stories Donal also used the image of the body to elaborate on the qualities that are valued and fostered in a Jesuit school; Competence – the head; Conscience – the heart; Compassion – the hands. And he said that a Jesuit education helps students grow towards freedom and responsibility and encourages them to strive for excellence and compassion in everything they do.
He then outlined the four major priorities of Fr Arturo Sosa, the leader of the Jesuits worldwide.
To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment
To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice
To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future
To collaborate in the care of our Common Home
He explained how all Jesuits and colleagues in many fields including education would be promoting these ‘universal apostolic preferences’, that are now central to a Jesuit ethos, over the next decade.
Ms Anne-Marie Dolan (Pastoral Coordinator) closed the day by explaining the ethos journey our students will be taken on between Elements and Rhetoric and outlining the various activities that enrich the boy’s lives during both the academic and Liturgical year. She told parents that there were many opportunities open to them to enrich their understanding of the Jesuit ethos including the upcoming retreat for parents in May.
The day ended with Mass and lunch.