From 12–14 April, twenty-four members of the CJ English Province gathered at Hinsley Hall, Leeds, for our annual Province Assembly. The Province Assembly is an important occasion for us to gather and reflect on issues important to our life and mission, as well as an opportunity to pray together, catch up on news and enjoy one another’s company. This year’s theme was ‘A Crossing Place’, reflecting the ongoing process of discernment and preparation across the whole Congregation of Jesus, as we listen intently for where and how the Lord is calling us to serve, and think about how we can adapt our structures to better serve that mission.
We spent our first session reviewing the process of ‘Generative Listening’, which the whole CJ has been working on over the last six months, as a way of learning to listen freely and attentively to God and to one another. We reflected together on poverty, with a talk from Sr Theo on poverty in the thinking and spirituality of Ignatius and Mary Ward, and talks from Sr Sarah on province finance and communal poverty. (Sr Theo’s talk is available to download here.) It was a great joy to have with us two people who share our mission in a different way: Dr Hannah Thomas, who has joined us as our Research Fellow and Special Collections manager in York, and James Foster, who is the general manager of the Bar Convent. Hannah took us through her work in the archives, showing how the fascinating resources of the English Province can be a way of reaching out to local people, and continuing the educational charism of the CJ in new and creative ways. James showed us how the transformation of the Bar Convent, with the development of the Living Heritage Centre and refurbishment of the B&B, has renewed this mission of hospitality in the city of York.
The Province Assembly is a wonderful opportunity for renewing the ‘union of hearts and minds’ which is so essential for our mission. Sr Gill, Sr Gemma and Sr Patricia led us in prayer during the weekend, and Leona, Sr Marion and Sr Felicia prepared a beautiful Mass, celebrated by Canon Michael Ryan.