Last Tuesday Fr Thomas Layden (OC ’75), the Irish Jesuit Provincial, while on his annual visitation to the school, formally opened and blessed our new Prayer Room. This beautiful, tranquil space is located just above the main school concourse in a space that certain generations of Old Clongownians knew as the Lower Line TV Room (and will be fondly remembered by them for many a Saturday night ‘Pit’ session). On Wednesday Fr Layden concelebrated Mass (see pictures below) for the whole school in a wonderful Liturgy embellished by the boys of Schola under the baton of Mr Cyril Murphy (OC ’80).
Opening the Prayer Room the Provincial expressed his thanks to all who have worked so hard making ready this place of quiet, meditation and reflection and drew our attention to the fact that it is called ‘Manresa’ after the place in Spain where St. Ignatius experienced the awareness of God to him in his own life. He expressed the hope that all who enter our Manresa here at Clongowes may experience the same awareness of God to us in our own lives.
Ms Anne Marie Dolan, Pastoral Assistant to the Headmaster invited us all to simply close our eyes and pause amidst the busy-ness at the heart of our school and to ask ourselves what brings us peace and joy, or more importantly what hinders it? She reminded us that prayer is ultimately communicating with something greater than ourselves and hoped that this prayer/reflection room will encourage us to be able to answer the question that Jesus posed to the communities of the Gospels:
WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?
She continued: ‘When I began my journey at Clongowes this time last year I very much felt a need to create another type of space for both students and staff, an intimate space in the heart of the school and so this room that we now stand in and now call ‘Manresa’ was born.
From the original vision to finding the perfect space to eventually putting together a plan of how this room should look all happened one evening whilst sitting in this room with René de Los Reyes our visiting Jesuit from the British province last year, who then produced beautiful paintings of my ideas.
This room with its softness of comfort and light, sound of gentle running water strongly balanced with five prayerful quotations on the back wall, (over which a bust of St. Ignatius looks) creates a space to think, relax, unwind, de-stress, be at peace and most of all connect with something greater than ourselves; to connect and be connected with something that our hearts yearn for!
We know that at any time of the day or night and at any place we can call on God. He is always waiting, listening for our call. This alone is a wonderful blessing. No ‘phone needed, no e-mails, no Facebook, twitter or snap chat – just a whisper.
St. Ignatius himself strived for a happiness that was fulfilling, and eventually found it whilst simultaneously resting an injury and reflecting on the life of Christ. My prayer and hope this morning is that all of you – both students and staff – use this room to rest an injury, worry or simply as a place of peace, and that you too will find contentment & happiness each time you use it.
I will finish now with one of the quotations from this wall . . .
“Prayer should be an experience of surrendering where our entire being enters into the presence of God.”’
Blessing by Fr. Provincial:
Bless this place of prayer and reflection and all who pray and pray for here.
May the lord strengthen us all in faith, confirm us in hope and enliven us in love.
Especially love of the poor and the needy.
And may almighty God bless this place
In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit