In the spirit of the Ignatian Anniversary, the Ignatian Formation Team wished to help staff at St. Aloysius College to rediscover the roots of the Ignatian family in Malta, Ignatian spirituality and the life of Ignatius.
So, a pilgrimage to first Ignatian sites in Malta, was organised for all the members of staff of the three schools as their annual Ignatian formation day. The running theme was also linked to the theme of the year ‘Seeing all things new in Christ’. 15 pilgrimages in all were held throughout the year.
The teams included two members of the Ignatian formation team and a Jesuit who led the main meditations. The pilgrimage started off at school inviting the staff to adopt an attitude of pilgrimage. This was inspired by Ignatius who lived all his life as a pilgrim.
The first stage of the pilgrimage was a visit to Sarria Church in Floriana. This site was chosen as a starting point because it was a Church built in thanksgiving for the end of the plague. The different missions of the Jesuits were also introduced within Sarria.
After the meditation on the theme ‘Seeing all things new in Christ’ the pilgrims set off on foot to Valletta, each of the three schools adopting a different path. Two prayers were chosen to accompany the pilgrims: the prayer of Pedro Arrupe – ‘Teach me Your Ways’ and the prayer by Michel Quoist – ‘I would like to rise very high.’
The second stage was the Jesuit Church in Valletta. The team introduced some history about the coming of the Jesuits in Malta, about their mission and the Collegium Melitensiae, the roots of the University of Malta.
The theme focused on was ‘Seeing our Mission as Educators with the Eyes of Christ.,’ through the painting of the Vision at La Storta. Educators were invited to reflect about how their mission as an educator is a continuation of Christ’s mission in the world. They shared a symbol with each other, which they placed on the cross.
The break was organised at the YMCA a local NGO. The connection between the educational apostolate of the Jesuits and their social apostolate was made linking it to the Camerata area and the work with the prostitutes.
The third stage was ‘Casa Manresa’, the first retreat house built by the Jesuits which is now the Archbishop’s Curia. After a quick introduction to the place, the participants spent some time in the Chapel and the Jesuit present introduced the importance of ‘feeling with the Church’ as presented by St. Ignatius. The session here focused on ‘Seeing Education Anew with the Eyes of Christ’ focusing on the mission of Education in our Society today. The primary school teachers were then given very short workshops inspired by the reflections of Fr. A. Sosa sj in his book ‘Walking with Ignatius’ about Education as a Collaborative Mission, Education as a Mission of Hope, and Education as a Mission of Reconciliation and Dialogue. The secondary school teachers had a discussion session led by Mark Cachia from the Diocesan Commission of Peace and Justice on Education as a tool of Reconciliation and Justice in our country. The Sixth Form Teachers were addressed by His Grace Rev. J. Galea Curmi, Auxiliary Bishop who spoke of a Church that listens, that welcomes, that accompanies and that goes forth and how education is part of that mission. The session ended with dialogue.
This experience was a moment of grace for the staff and many now yearn that we visit places closer to Ignatius like Rome and Spain!