Mission possible

April 8, 2020 in coronavirus, Newsletter

The Covid-19 crisis has presented Jesuits and their colleagues with plenty of challenges. Social distancing, working from home and total lockdown for many is the new world order. But the work of the apostolates goes on regardless as the collated feedback below demonstrates.

If you would like to let others know how you are working in these changing times don’t hesitate to contact us.

What’s going on

Dermot Roantree: Irish Jesuit Communications

  • IJC team work remotely
  • IJN and Jesuit Plus » delivered as normal
  • Special Covid-19 page » has been set up on Jesuit.ie collating stories, blogposts and interviews from Jesuits and colleagues at home and abroad regarding the crisis.
  • A new podcast series has begun, featuring Irish Jesuits abroad coping with Covid-19
  • Gavin Thomas Murphy is blogging regularly on spirituality and mental health and well-being
  • IJC are looking for stories, notices, etc. from the different ministries
  • IJC happy to help out any apostolate where possible

 Gerry Clarke: Gardiner St Church » 

  • Live streaming of 11am Mass available every day including Sundays and has proved very popular
  • They’ve just begun offering a blessing with the John Sullivan cross at the end of the Mass
  • They have launched a #StayHome Initiatives at Gardiner St webpage including a virtual book club and film club
  • Easter ceremonies will be live-streamed by webcam
  • Parish services are accessible via diocesan website webcam list

 John Guiney: Irish Jesuit Missions » 

  • The mission office team meets weekly via Zoom.
  • Outreach locally involves making contact and supporting donors and friends of Mission Office, especially those who are elderly
  • Internationally they are keeping in contact with people on the missions, many of whom are in isolation
  • The major question the Mission Office is trying to address is how to engage in pastoral accompaniment of their friends and partners in mission at this time?

Kevin Hargaden: Irish Centre for Faith and Justice »

  • JCFJ output continues unbroken, with everyone working remotely
  • They are especially addressing issue of prisons, urging prisoner release during crisis because of the high risk posed by Covid-19
  • Making contact with government and relevant people to further this aim
  • They are continuing with their theological reflection as well as with policy proposals and ongoing social analysis
  • Peter McVerry and the Trust continue to lobby on behalf of the homeless

Piaras Jackson SJ: Manresa Jesuit Centre for Spirituality » 

  • Manresa have four people in community cocooning
  • They have 20 staff and good systems in place,
  • The Spirituality centre has made successful efforts to keep up contact with people via video, newsletter, curated list of links on website, etc
  • They will be sending out a newsletter during Holy Week with details of their suggestions for Holy Week
  • They are currently working on configuring retreats for online delivery, e.g., use of Zoom, and also planning for a daily structure for an 8-day retreat with one-to-one spiritual direction, and possible group interaction etc.
  • They are also offering some Spiritual conversation online and thinking more generally about developing good practice and protocols around this

Brendan McManus SJ: Spirituality Delegate

  • Giving online spiritual direction, particularly to priests in the diocese of Raphoe
  • Using Facebook » daily as ministry tool – posting inspirational quotes or texts, suggestions for mindfulness, tips for self-care, etc.
  • Has written a retreat for Sacred Space » with Jim Deeds in response to the isolation induced by the current crisis
  • Planning to create a general Ignatian retreat with Ignatian links and resources to be published on jesuit.ie

 John McDermott: Sacred Space » 

  • Work is continuing apace with writers and translators using collaboration and communication tools: Slack, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts
  • They have set up a Coronavirus page for their online prayer community featuring the Pope’s special Covid-19 prayer suggestions and individual prayers relating to the virus.
  • They have just published Brendan McManus’ special retreat on Covid-19 and isolation
  • They are bringing back Latest Space (the website newsletter) as part of larger effort to keep in contact with users
  • There has been no significant increase in numbers using the site, but donations are down

Eugene Quinn and Dave Moriarty: Irish Jesuit Refugee Service » 

  • JRS Ireland has real concerns about how coronavirus is impacting on migrants and refugees
  • They are working with public health bodies, HSE, etc. especially re helping vulnerable people
  • They are also trying to reach people who are out of immediate contact, via helplines, organising interpretation services, helping with medication, etc.
  • JRS is listed as a point of contact on a letter for migrants at dispersal from provision centres
  • They are addressing issues of social distancing and cocooning in the direct provision centres.
      • Only three spaces are made available for cocooning in each centre. This is not enough and JRS is helping to find off-site accommodation
      • Working on thinning in centres, i.e., getting number per bedroom reduced to help with social distancing
      • Addressing contagion dangers in canteen situations

Damien Burke: Archives » 

  • Working on getting archive materials online
  • Appealing to people in the various works to keep notes about their experience of coronavirus crisis

Brian Flannery: Education sector

  • A big effort is being made in schools to move teaching online systematically: use of Zoom-based classes, setting timetables, compiling teaching materials, etc.
  • Chaplaincies are active: establishing one-to-one contact especially with vulnerable students
  • Gonzaga College » have added a special page to their website featuring Ignatian spiritual resources for parents and students in this crisis time
  • The education office is looking into using Universal Apostolic Preferences as a framework for responding to the crisis
  • St Declan’s is a school with particular challenges and staff are working to help parents manage their children’s schooling in the current situation

Donal Neary: Messenger Publications » 

  • Any staff who can work from home are doing so. Thus the June Messenger has gone to print Tuesday. Books are being prepared for print.
  • Raphael by Michael Collins delivered to warehouse,
    Readings for Easter and Pentecost by Kieran O Mahony OSA on sale now.
  • Online sales still active. Donal Neary preparing them for post.
  • Due to the temporary closure of another published, Dermot Lane’s Theology and Ecology will be published by Messenger in time for the 5th anniversary of Laudato Si on Pentecost Sunday.
    Jim Maher’s book on Ignatian spirituality in process for publication.
  • July and August Messengers being prepared for publication.
  • Single sub Messengers will be in the post this week.
  • Website and Facebook and Twitter updated daily, with a video message to promoters and readers from the editor, and a prayer for the time that’s in it, and a message to youth on Relink Facebook, also by the editor.
  • Brian Grogan’s Creation Walk selling well online and getting reviews.

Martin Curry SJ: Galway

  • Two schools are closed
  • Church of St Ignatius is open every day but no services are taking place
  • There will be no services in public for Easter
  • We six are confined to the house and grounds, only Willie Reynolds SJ goes out to shop
  • We have no staff, are cooking and cleaning for ourselves.
  • So far, we are doing very well

Michael O’Sullivan: SpIRE 

  • Moved the MA in Applied Spirituality online;
    • Zoom classes with MA students
    • Zoom meetings with lecturers
    • Posted library books to students
    • Adoption of Mitigating Circumstances in relation to assignments for those affected by the virus (e.g., home schooling with children which takes away study and writing time for the MA programme; raised anxieties looking after family members who have underlying health conditions, or who are faced with job losses; eye problems for a student who cannot do as much work as is now required with computer screens; etc.)
    • Constant email communication with MA students, MA staff, Waterford Institute of Technology officials
    • Emails about MA inquiries for 2020-21
    • Skype admissions interviews with MA applicants for 2020-21
    • Zoom meetings with the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality (I am an elected member) in the light of the decision to defer our international conference that was due to take place in York St John University in June
    • Zoom meetings with my colleagues in different countries on the International Relations Committee of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality and the possibility that editorial board meetings of the Society’s journal, Spiritus (of which I am a member) will also go online

Provincial Leonard Moloney: Curia

  • Some Jesuits are self-isolating because of travel from USA, Britain and Spain
  • One Jesuit has been tested for Covid-19 virus
  • Cherryfield nursing home is getting ready for possible cases