In a letter dated 29 May 2020, the Provincial of the former Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus announced his decision to close the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, effective August 2021. You may read the Provincial’s letter, accompanying FAQs, and Br. Derby’s letter of response here.
While we are sorrowful at the decision, we are focused on the remaining time of ministry here in Wernersville. The Jesuit Center will continue to offer retreats and other programs for spiritual renewal, and to host groups, through August 2021. You can see our 2021 program calendar here.
At a recent retreat Mass here at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, we sang these words, the refrain to a song I had not heard or sung before, Tom Booth’s “I Will Choose Christ.” The lyrics struck me as speaking very much to the heart of Christian vocation, however we are called to live it concretely in our lives—as priest, religious Sister or Brother, lay minister, deacon, husband or wife, parent or grandparent—all the varied ways we choose Christ. Just as He called women and men to share in His earthly ministry, so now Jesus continues to call us to love and serve, to give our hearts, our lives, our all to Him in others. The spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, invites us to seek clarity around how Christ calls me, with all my gifts and my limitations, my strengths and weaknesses, to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. At the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, we strive to help all sorts of folks gain that clarity around Christ’s call.
During the month of November, following on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, the Church invites us to focus our attention on vocations, especially vocations to the ordained ministry and the consecrated life. In the Catholic Church in the US, Nov 3-9, 2019 is set aside as National Catholic Vocation Awareness Week http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/vocations/national-vocation-awareness-week.cfm. For the Jesuits, November 5th, the Feast of All Saints & Blesseds of the Society of Jesus https://www.beajesuit.org/, is our special day for this activity. We “promote” vocations—that is, we try to raise the idea of vocation in as many people’s minds and hearts as we can. We do that by praying for vocations, telling vocation stories, and inviting young people to consider vocation paths that they might not otherwise attend to. On this page, some of the Jesuit Center staff and resident Jesuits tell their vocation stories. We hope that you will find these stories edifying and inspiring. If you know of someone that you think would make a good priest, Sister or Brother, deacon or lay minister, please encourage them to think about it and pray about it—and say “Yes,” should God be calling them!
Br. Christopher Derby, SJ,
“I will choose Christ, I will choose love,
I choose to serve. I give my heart,
I give my life, I give my all to you.”
Spiritual Growth | Vocation
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"May the Lord Himself give us light to bring to action the best we are for the generous service of the Church."
-- Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, Former Superior-General of the Society of Jesus