Fr. Robert M. Hussey, SJ, the Provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, has decided to close the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, effective August 2021. Fr. Hussey announced his decision on 29 May 2020 in a letter to the Province. You may read Fr. Hussey’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. As much as possible in this pandemic, the Jesuit Center will be offering retreats, days of prayer, and other programs for spiritual renewal, and hosting groups, through August 2021. You can see our 2020-2021 program calendar here.
I am a doer. So, what is there to do in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? As facilities director for the Jesuit Center and minister to the Jesuit community, there remain the everyday tasks of hearing from our staff about a burned-out light bulb here and a dead tree there. Gratefully, our cleaning and housekeeping supplies are ample, including the coveted toilet paper. But something is different, and the temptation is to perceive that difference in business as usual as something wrong.
The biology of disease is beyond the expertise of this student of theology and philosophy. However, my background in studying American cultural dynamics gives me a clue about the confidence, if not the hubris, we have in our notion that all things are conquerable for our own interests. Clearly, that attitude has been turned on its head as we are forced to recognize our place as global citizens influenced by forces far beyond our realm of control. Who or what is to blame? We desperately want to answer that question so we can continue to control our own destiny in that American spirit of getting things done—all, of course, in the name of “progress.”
Grinding to a halt is not at all the American way, but that is exactly what is happening to our lives. Linked with anxiety, inconvenience, and genuine danger, each one of us is brought to pause to consider our genuine priorities. The distinction between needs and wants comes into sharp focus. What are we to do in the midst of this onslaught to our comfort and routine? The clichés, truisms, and downright absurdities are already coming into play. We have heard them. Events swirl around us, yet our humanity remains intact.
Jesus in his final trial is caught in the momentum of the evil around him. Even he is powerless before Pilate, his fate already sealed. And Jesus continues on in faithfulness to the Father who has remained with him through it all. He emerges victorious after the most rigorous of ordeals. Our hope this Easter is that we, too, emerge from this ordeal victorious, strengthened, and ready to take on the challenges of being in a community, fragile, but loved by a God who is beyond any limitations of our physical condition. Our simple choices day to day can echo the Creator’s desire for us that we can make all things new and bring good into the world. The time is now to believe and enact what we have said so many times: We are Christ to the world, bringing the Resurrection into our midst with every action we do in the name of the Risen Lord.
Christ to the World
Rev. Thomas J. Kuller, SJ
As Certain as the Dawn | April 22, 2020
George W. Bur, SJ