Last Sunday, 13th January, Clongowes hosted the Grammar Parent Day. The focus of the day was a 2008 publication by Fr. Brian Grogan S.J. Alone and On Foot. This is a biography on the life of St. Ignatius. The blurb on the rear of the book accurately states, “[this book] allows Ignatius to tell his own story, and reveals him as a dissolute and feisty young man, who ‘stopped to think’ only when his career was wrecked, who limped some 12,000 km of the roads of Europe trying to discover how best to ‘help people’, and who finally with his ‘friends in the Lord’ founded the Society of Jesus. Alone and on Foot will serve as an encouragement to those trying to find God in the bustle of fast-paced life.”
Grammar parents were treated to a presentation of this book by Danny McNelis, who is Head of Religious Education and Retreats Organiser in Gonzaga College S.J. In a unique style, Danny enlivened the life of St. Ignatius and sought from it questions that posed to the parents: Does my son feel loved?, Do I take time to reflect on my life?, What do I desire in my life? Does my life matter – to me?, How can I enhance my life right now?
These questions are exactly the type of questions that Ignatius, or Inigo, would have asked himself at various points in his life, before, during and after his conversion. Danny also expanded this drawing attention to 5 dimensions to the character of Ignatius of Loyola S.J. according to the Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits:
- Pilgrim: Life is a pilgrimage, nothing is static or certain. We do not control our existence. Let us relate to God in trust and hope, consigning our well-being and future to his care.
- Helping Others: Despite a demanding life, of poor health, in which he was often misunderstood, Ignatius derived energy, joy and hope from serving others for the Greater Glory of God. To the extent to which we love others, life is more fulfilling and contented.
- Caring and Compassionate: Homes for orphans, houses for Prostitutes, refuges for converted Jews, counseling for lay women and men. Through his care and compassion without discrimination, Ignatius was a gateway to God, for all.
- Loyal Servant of the Church: Ignatius did not confuse the Church with Churchmen. The Church is the Body of Christ in the World. It needs Irish persons, especially lay persons, to proclaim unashamedly and with commitment that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and ultimately, the Life.
- Attractive Personality: One does not have to be sombre or prissy to serve God. For Joy is the mark of a Christian. We are the people with the promise of the Resurrection. So let’s radiate this hope and joy in celebration.
Danny’s presentation was energetic, enthusiastic and entertaining. When referring to Ignatius’ vanity when his leg was broken with a cannonball, Danny remarked, “aren’t we all vain when we’re putting the sun lotion on us on the beach? I asked my wife, ‘do you think I’m vain and do you know what she replied? She said, ‘you have nothing to be vain about!’
A buoyant group celebrated mass afterward in the Boys’ Chapel with Fr. Bruce Bradley S.J. and our Headmaster Fr. Leonard Moloney S.J. Thanks to our parents, Mrs. Mary Tyrrell for reading the first reading and Mrs. Noeleen McCreevy for Eucharistic Minister.