I just returned from a meeting at St. Louis University of 25 Jesuits from around the country and of all ages who are interested in the spirituality and work of the Apostleship of Prayer.
We began on Tuesday evening with prayer and spiritual conversation about the role which the Sacred Heart of Jesus has played in our lives the past year. On Wednesday morning I gave a report on the past year’s activities of the AoP and then others reported on their activities related to the Apostleship: retreats, parish missions, student groups at universities. In the afternoon we discussed the role of the newly created position of Youth and Young Adult Director. On July 1 Fr. Phil Hurley, S.J., of the Maryland Province who was ordained in 2008, will fill this role. He will work to introduce the Eucharistic spirituality of the AoP to people ages 3 to 33. Fr. Hurley will also work in a special way with Jesuits at our high schools and universities. The group also discussed how the AoP could collaborate with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and with Jesuit schools that participate in the annual March for Life. Lastly, we talked about AoP involvement in the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid.
On Wednesday evening we met with Chuck Neff, a film producer and television and radio broadcaster who told his story of leaving the world of secular media to work for the Lord. After an inspiring account of the place of Divine Providence in his life, Mr. Neff talked about the role of the media in the new evangelization and gave practical advice about getting involved in the media, especially via the internet.
On Thursday morning Joe Laramie, S.J., a scholastic of the Missouri Province, led a discussion of a paper he wrote on the Eucharist and the martyrs of the early Church. A strong connection was made between the Eucharist and the spirituality of offering which is essential to Sacred Heart devotion and the AoP. This discussion was followed by a presentation by Fr. Ambrose Bennett, a Benedictine monk of St. Louis Priory, who spoke about St. Gertrude and the Sacred Heart, the subject of his licentiate thesis from San Anselmo Pontifical Institute in Rome. He also shared with the group his research on the connection between the Apostleship of Prayer and the traditional Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
The meeting wrapped up in the afternoon summarizing the work of the last two days and planning for the future. This is the third year in a row that a group of Jesuits has met to pray together and discuss their devotion to the Heart of Jesus and the continuing renewal of the AoP in the U.S.