Jesuit first vows – ‘a consoling experience’

September 6, 2022 in Featured News, News

Eamonn Walls SJ and Mikhael Ahmad SJ took their first vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Society of Jesus at Oscott Chapel, Diocesan Seminary, Birmingham, UK on 3 September 2022. It marked the end of their novitiate, the initial two years of Jesuit training that includes growth in prayer and community life, knowledge of the Society, apostolic work and personal enrichment. Read an account below by Terry Howard SJ, who attended the event as part of the Irish delegation.

First vows in the Society of Jesus by Terry Howard SJ

Saturday, September 3rd at 12 noon was the date and time of the first vows of Eamonn Walls SJ (Irish Province) and Mikhael Ahmad SJ (British Province). The setting was St Mary’s College, Oscott, Birmingham, which is the home of the seminary for the diocese of Birmingham for the last 180 years, and the Jesuit novices have been living there for the last two years while the novitiate in Harborne, Birmingham is being rebuilt. The rebuild is almost ready but not quite.

It was such a consoling experience to be present at this milestone in Eamonn’s life. I found myself asking: ‘What moves a person to leave the security of a well-paid job and career and to move in the direction that Eamonn has moved – with all its insecurity?’ And I found myself saying, ‘He must have found something else – another ‘Security’ more dependable than all the securities he has let go’.

We were welcomed by Fr Michael Dolman, rector of the college. He and his large staff made us feel very much at home and very welcomed. From the Irish Jesuit perspective, myself, Leonard Moloney, Niall Leahy, Barney McGuckian, Kevin O’Rourke and Brian Mac Cuarta attended the ceremony. The setting for the ceremony itself was the beautiful college chapel designed by Augustus Welby Pugin (pictured).

Damien Howard SJ, the Provincial of the British Province, presided. Damien received the vows of Mikhael and Leonard Moloney, Provincial of the Irish Province, received Eamonn’s vows. Kevin O’Rourke preached a thought-provoking and well-received homily (click here ») and scholastics from France, to the surprise of the congregation, attended the ceremony and sang a wonderful communal reflection (in French of Anima Christi).

The ceremony was followed by a substantial lunch in the seminary refectory which for some conjured up memories of Harry Potter! Of note was the array of delicious deserts once again provided by those great servants to the novitiate, Martina and Colette. Eamonn left Birmingham on Sunday September 4th en route to Dublin and his first SJ appointment. More immediately, he will spend a week at home in Rasharkin, County Antrim before heading to Francis Xavier’s Church, Gardiner Street in Dublin.