WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

450 years of work among the laity

Archdiocesan News

Tricia Kane

Christian Life Community groups in Wellington and the Manawatu join their counterparts throughout the world this month to celebrate 450 years of lay organisations based on the Jesuit charism.

Jesuit founder St Ignatius and his companions set up devotional sodalities of lay people to work among the laity; Belgian Fr Jean Leunis sj established the first, the Sodality of Our Lady, in 1563. The groups engage in practical work supporting those in their community in difficulties, including homeless children and women on the streets.

With the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, these Marian congregations became the first movement of and for lay people. Under the control of local bishops, numbers exploded over the years, but the groups’ activities became restricted to pious practices.

In 1948 Pius XII took an active interest in modernising and reforming the sodalities. At a world assembly in 1967, the Marian congregations became Christian Life Communities in a rebirth of Ignatius’ vision.
In 1982 the CLC General Assembly took up the challenge to be one world community ‘on mission to bring about justice.’ They have returned to their roots for an Ignatian spirituality emphasising prayer, community and mission.

The Ignatian charism encourages an active faith combined with an ever-deepening personal spiritual life. Members aim to be ‘contemplatives in action’.

The Wellington groups will celebrate the 450th anniversary with a Mass at 11am on 3 August at Pa Maria at 78 Hobson Street.

As well a seminar in early September will see a new format of the Ignatian spiritual exercises.

Australian Jesuit Fr Michael Hansen developed the first Spiritual Exercises to encourage lay participation in giving and receiving the spiritual exercises. This course will be offered in Wellington and the Manawatu in 2014. Read Wel-Com for future details.