November begins with the Feast of All Saints, and includes a number of feast days for Jesuits saints and blesseds. Their stories remind us that all of us walk in companionship with God, with each other, and with those on the margins, says Fr Brian McCoy SJ. Full transcript below.
The month of November can be a very special month for all of us Jesuits, Christians, as we begin by remembering the saints, the blesseds, who have gone before us. And the Feast of All Souls, those who have died, and perhaps, especially this year of the pandemic, an opportunity to remember those families who have lost loved ones and been unable to celebrate and share those services of loss and grief, because of the restrictions due to the pandemic.
For we as Jesuits it is a special month because we remember our saints, more than 50, and our blessed, more than 150. A great diversity of younger and older Jesuits over nearly 500 years, who have gone before us and who continue to inspire us and encourage us on our journey of faith and service.
Early in the month on 3 November we celebrated the feast of Blessed Rupert Mayer, a German Jesuit who had been tortured by the Nazis. Then on 13 November we celebrate the feast of St Stanislaus Kostka, a young Polish novice who died at the age of 18. On 14 November we celebrate the feast of St Joseph Pignatelli – with an Italian father, Spanish mother – who cared for those who were exiled and expelled from Spain in 1767. On 16 November, Sts Roque Gonzalez, Alonozo Rodriguez and Juan de Castillo, three martyrs in Paraguay, and Roque himself born Paraguay. On 23 November, the martyred Mexican Miguel Pro. Then on the 26th, the young scholastic Belgian John Berchmans.
Together these saints and blessed and many others, remind us of the great diversity of culture, and of age, of experience, of the places they lived and served and sacrificed their lives over this history of the Society of nearlu 500 years.
I confess that the one saint this month that particularly appeals to me is St Joseph Pignatelli. When the Jesuits were expelled from Spain, very quickly in 1767, he was asked by the provincial to be the superior of some 600 Jesuits spread over 30 ships. And for the next 40 years he cared for his brother Jesuits, looking always for a home, a port, a place where they could find a home. If not as Jesuits then as diocesan priests. But he may remained faithful to a Church that had been hard to him, and he continued to look for a home for himself and others, never forgetting his companionship, with his brother Jesuits, his faith in the Church despite the hard times, even coming to serve the Pope, who had at one time had been imprisoned in Rome.
He never saw the restoration of the Society, some three years after he died. But he was a remarkable man, a man who is a great example for people who seek refuge and asylum.
This year, on Saturday November 14th, we are hoping in Melbourne to have the ordination of Eka Tanaya, one of our men. Eka has been trying to find a home, a place, a time – not quite like Joseph Pignatelli – but a place, a port, a church, a bishop, a time, where he could be ordained after three previous attempts failed. So we are hoping this year, on Saturday November 14th, the Feast of St Joseph Pignatelli, the patron of asylum seekers and refugees, to to have ordained Eka Tanaya.
Joseph Pignatelli, and all the saints and blesseds of the Society, they remind us always of three key things. Trust and faith in Jesus, our companionship, with him. Pur companionship with one another, and those we serve ministry with, whatever our age and culture and space and time – companionship, with others, care for others, love of others and service of others, and sometimes, ultimate sacrifice for others. And finally, we do not forget those in need. Those in prison. Those who continue to seek asylum. Those on the margins of our society.
And those three things sustained those blessed and those saints of the Society. May they continue to bless and sustain us on our journey of faith.
Fr Brian McCoy SJ, Provincial