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 2020-2021 program calendar here.
There are three kinds of vocations for each of us. The first is the most basic one – the call to a relationship with God. This is the highest and deepest call for every person. It is the question of how am I to live every day as someone created, loved and gifted by God. This takes shape in my relationships with people and in my work. So, another dimension of vocation is whether I am called to serve God through a relationship with a spouse, through a single lifestyle, in a religious community or through ordination to the priesthood. And finally, there is a call to a particular work. When what I do flows out of who I truly am, out of my deepest passions, dreams and desires and when it uses well the gifts I have been given for the sake of others, I am living out my vocation.
Vocations are dynamic. They grow and change. At various times I have felt called to be an educator of children, a Director of Religious Education, and a spiritual director. I have also felt invited to play the organ for church, to start a Peace and Justice committee at my parish, and to teach prisoners Alternatives to Violence. Some of these positions were paid and some were volunteer, but they were all a matter of vocation in that they expressed what I had to give and were responsive to the needs of the community.
Lay ecclesial ministry as a professional vocation is somewhat new in the Church’s history. It is a beautiful outgrowth of Vatican II’s recognition that the laity are both to live out the Church’s mission in the world and take increasing responsibility in liturgical, educational, administrative, spiritual and service-oriented ministries within the Church. Laity, including women like myself, are being educated in order to enhance our God-given call to service within the Church and its many forms of outreach – in parishes, retreat houses, schools, hospitals, prisons, facilities for the aging, halfway houses, law offices, diocesan offices, and many more. Following my vocation to participate directly in the ministries of the Church has been exciting, challenging, and deeply meaningful to me. I am grateful for the call and can’t wait to see what’s next!
"I am grateful for the call and can’t wait to see what’s next!"
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