Dear fellow Jesuits of Campion House and all who help them!
After eight months in your kind and peaceful presence, I am very grateful to you, for having been given this unique possibility during my sabbatical year. It is also during this time that I celebrate the 25th year of my priesthood and 33rd year of my Jesuit religious life.
The past eight months have been for me a time of peace, prayer and reflection and the sharing of life’s moments with all of you whom I perceive as companions of Jesus in consolation, consoling others. Thank you sincerely for receiving me so openly and fraternally. Big thanks to each and every one of you.
The biggest gift for me was meeting daily at meals and at common celebrations of the Eucharist. I experienced strongly your thankfulness to God. Together we have shared His unconditional love for us, expressed in the concrete acts and deeds of every day life. Every day the Holy mass opened my heart to your beauty, your example of religious life and to your fraternal kindness.
I perceive you as generous apostles, offering your lives for the Lord’s vineyard. Your entire lives are like a burning candle that brings light to others. You have very different stories of mission and very different experiences of partaking in the Body and Blood of Christ. To me you are examples of a Jesuit religious life gratefully and sincerely offered. You have given me courage and goodwill; a strong faith, that our journey is worthwhile and precious to the people and to God our Father.
I first want to thank Fr. Michael Head, whom I have experienced as a very kind, correct and magnanimous person. His love for us, all present and past Jesuits, is remarkable. I am especially grateful for his input during our Eucharistic celebrations, on the stories of past Jesuits. Thank you Fr. Michael for making possible my visits to Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra. Thank you for your impressive book about Sevenhill and for your historical memory of God’s works through the Jesuits. I am thankful to you for giving me the opportunity to be part of this community.
Thank you Sacha for accepting me to stay with this peaceful community. I am grateful for sharing your story with me and listening to mine. Also, I am grateful to you for showing me Newman College, celebrating mass together and the gift of the Ignatian anniversaries medal.
Thank you Fr. Guy Carlson for your paternal guidance and for mentoring me in my spiritual reading. I am in awe of your passion for sport and the love you have for the suffering world around us. You have opened me to new horizons in understanding God, the world and the Church. Thank you for the story about God and you on the bicycle. It is also a very suitable metaphor for my life.
Thank you Fr. Laurie Leonard for the attention and care you have shown me and show to all fellow Jesuits in the community that are in need. I am glad that we went to visit Fr. John Doenau in the hospital and am thankful to you for the fraternal sharing of your experiences of caring for sick Jesuits. I am also very grateful to you for your generous help in helping me get the bicycle repaired and for driving me from Anglesea to Melbourne.
Thank you Fr. Iain Radvan for inviting me to help with the maintenance of the grounds in the community. For me, it was a time of relaxation and recreation. The care you put in to maintain nice surroundings around the house has encouraged me in my future work as minister of the new community we are starting in Slovenia at the beginning of July. Thank you for inviting me to the sea adventure on the ‘Enterprize’ where you showed great versatility in managing the rudder of the ship.
Thank you Fr. Dave Ryan for your kind invitations; to Daylesford and a place, which I was unable to go because of my visa, break in Auckland. To me you are a good example of a Jesuit who prays not only with his head but also with his body. Your commitment to your morning jogs inspired me to persevere with swimming in the Kew swimming pool.
Thank you Fr. Tony Campbell for your books, especially for the book ‘God first loved us’ and the one about the Church. I have purchased some of your books about the Bible to use in my future work with groups and in popular missions. Thank you for your unique and original ‘kiwi’ presence and companionship.
Thank you Fr. Des Purcell for your always simple openness, your kind presence and generous help in searching for shoes. I enjoyed your presentation at the beginning of one of the Eucharist’s, of a short story on the life of a deceased Jesuit. I was so inspired by your initiative that I too will implement this in my new community.
Thank you Fr. John Harte. for your sincere and attentive interest in conversations on different issues. I was encouraged by your positive attitude toward my way of celebrating mass and by your paternal attention. I appreciate your knowledge of the Scripture and your clear analytic mind, sensitive to the beauty of music and life.
Thanks Fr. Celso Romanin for your artistic, creative and very sensible spirit. I especially remember moments when you showed me your workshop down in the basement. I admire your creative patience with all the machines on which you create all your beautiful wooden arts. Thank you for the pleasurable morning question, ‘Would you like an egg?’ and each time that you have kindly prepared it for me. Thank you for being patient with all things that may have disturbed your rest especially the closing of the door to my room.
Thank you Fr. Albert Said for your ‘advaita’ and your maltese and semitic sociability. We have made some trips together and have walked a lot. On our most recent trip, after we had walked 20 km, it was very humorous to hear you explaining to me whom I must call by mobile if you were to die now and how we should proceed with your remains. Your heart is like that of a child, thank you for sharing it with me.
Thank you Fr. Pat O’Sullivan for your Ignatian perspicacity about our Lord, who knows how to ‘come back home’ to our heart by means of every day life challenges. Thank you very much for your testimony about Fr. Arrupe and his blind obedience and confidence in the power of prayer. These two aspects are fundamental to my new mission to which the Provincial is sending me on my return. The Lord gives us His cardigan and His Spirit so that we are able to accept the unconditional love God offers each of us and every small creature he has created.
Thank you Fr. John Doenau for the exemplary love you show through the clearly pronounced Word of God in the liturgy. Life’s ordeals and years of work have not managed to diminish your heartfelt reading of the liturgical texts. You love the Eucharist and enjoy celebrating it. To me that is a precious example and stimulus to love our Lord more, He who every day offers himself to us in the mass and in each moment of our lives.
Thank you Mr. Tom Ferguson for your silent service and your big Irish heart.
Thank you Antonia for the kind attention you showed towards my learning to be a vegetarian. Thanks for all the vegetarian chicken and other excellent food you prepared for all of us. You are a real Dalmatian lady who is dedicated and works very hard, always offering us the best of your ‘kitchen art’ and knowledge.
Thank you also to Malcolm for your kitchen expertise infused with your male charm and creativity.
Thank you Raman and thank you Solmaz for your charming service in the kitchen and care for us.
Thank you Piera for teaching me how to iron a shirt and for introducing me to the laundry. Thank you for your patience and assisting me with the help of Italian explanations.
Thank you Angelo Campagna for your elegant and ‘gentile’ service to the community and for your help with my travels to Auckland and all the other ‘amabile aiuto’ you have given me during my stay in Campion.
Thank you Sebastian for your generous help with my computer and for your ‘handy capability’ with practical matters.
Thank you Leah for the maternal care you show to my fellow Jesuits and also showed to me when I was in need. Thank you to Gen, Sheila, Jan and Dennis your care for our community is generous and wonderful.
Thank you Ante for your Dalmatian openness. Thank you for all the chats in your mother tongue and the kind invitation to observe your son playing soccer. It is obvious you are proud of ‘Ante junior’ and you love him very much. Thanks also for your help with fixing the bicycle and for allowing me to navigate the steering wheel of the lawn mower.
To me, you all display strong qualities of the second half of life. You are all messengers of peace, examples of mutual respect, acceptance and mature creativity. Gerard Manley Hopkins masterly expresses the simplicity of the gift of life you have shared with me in the poem “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,”
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, Crying what I do is me: for that I came.
In your community, I have become more conscious of the fact that ‘all that we can give back and all God wants from any of us is to humbly and proudly return the gift that we have been given—which is ourselves!’ I have tasted of a deep intuition that we are already participating in something very good, in spite of our best efforts to deny it or avoid it.
I am asking you for your prayers in my new mission: a new community of three Jesuits in Radlje ob Dravi, near Austria, with the main task of helping the local priests with the First Exercises for parishes and establishing different groups or small gatherings (biblical, for couples, for divorced, for men…).
Grateful for your life, I ask for your blessings on me. I remain in union with you through every Eucharist until we meet in the New Jerusalem and celebrate together the eternal feast around the Father’s table through Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Campion House, Melbourne, June 2017
Fr. Viljem Lovse SJ