We would like to begin this brief report on the survey on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola with the words the Secretary for Education, José Alberto Mesa S.J. addressed to the Educate Magis community reminding us of the importance of the Feast Day.
“On July 31st, we celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. For us, Ignatian educators, this celebration is not only a reason for joy but also an invitation to recognize our source of inspiration and our commitment to providing an education of hope and optimism in a world troubled by extremism, violence and selfishness. July 31st is a day which invites us to renew our commitment to provide the world with an alternative of peace, justice and fraternity entrusted in the same God who transformed Iñigo to the Saint Ignatius we know and admire. We do this also through the preparation for the JESEDU-Rio2017 Congress which aims to lead us, as a universal body, to a universal response to the educational challenges of our world. Blessings on the feast of Saint Ignatius.”
Time of Celebration (When?)
We have received a good number of replies (120) from all six Jesuit regions of the world. Most of whom replied YES to the question whether they were celebrating the Feast of St. Ignatius were from the Southern Hemisphere, such as Latin America, Asia Pacific, South Asia and Africa.
But there was a different YES answer too, mainly from Europe, where few schools celebrate on the day but most celebrate it in either March (March 12th, 1622 date of the canonisation of Ignatius) or April or the end of January of each year. Most schools would organise a whole day of activities, while some would have three days, a whole Ignatian Week or a Novena.
Ways of Celebration (How?)
Most schools dedicated this day (week in some cases) to organise spiritual, recreational and social justice programmes. These were great opportunities for community building. Alumni, sponsors and parents were also invited to join the celebrations.
Spirituality and Ignatian values
- The activities varied from reflections, prayers, pilgrimages to Ignatian sites, like Manresa, Montserrat, Verdú (the 8 Schools in Catalonia), getting to know, the life and work of St. Ignatius.
“Celebramos el dia conjuntamente las 8 escuelas que en Catalunya integramos la Fundació Jesuïtes Educació, con un programa conjunto de actos que abarca des de visitas a Manresa, Montserrat, Verdú y juegos y actividades de aproximación a la obra de San Ignacio” (Europe).
- In most schools the celebrations culminated in the Eucharist.
- Assemblies, conferences, round tables, lectures, discussions around Ignatian values and spirituality gave a deeper insight into what it means to be an Ignatian school.
- Social justice events:
- Many schools organised walks and walk-a-thons to fundraise for good causes, among others for JRS Asylum Seekers and the new school in Timor Leste (Asia Pacific).
- Outreach programmes by students and staff in most cases linking in with the Jubilee Year of Mercy (worldwide).
- Many organised dinners, barbeques, picnics in some cases including desserts and even cocktails (this last one for school staff and guests only!)
Recreational activities and arts
- Various sports activities, games, soccer between teachers, staff and students (Asia Pacific)
- The artistic vein of Jesuit education manifests itself in many forms. Music, dance, drama, skits, films, exhibitions relating to the life of St. Ignatius entertained school communities.
“We launched the screening of Ignacio de Loyola, a full-length feature film on the life of St. Ignatius, directed and produced by a Filipino crew, with mostly Spanish actors. We’re holding an anticipated Feast Day Mass on 29 July. At the same time, our Student Council is organizing a digital-photo editing contest along the lines of Ignatian themes” (Asia Pacific).
“En el Colegio San Pedro Claver, con mucha alegría y entusiasmo. Desde pastoral se organiza una dramatización sobre la vida de San Ignacio…” (América Latina)
This summary gives a taste of how diversely we celebrate the Feast of St. Ignatius, be it on the day or earlier in the year. It shows the enthusiasm and commitment of school communities to mark this special day and share this moment with the wider community of parents, alumni, sponsors and friends of their school.
Thank you to all who participated in the survey!
Please also check out the related article: “A pictorial report of Jesuit Schools celebrating the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola in India”