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In this post, Annette Marie Mallay, Head of Administration, Ignatian Identity, and Student Formation at St. Bonaventure’s College in Newfoundland, shares her experience at the recent Midland event Pilgrims Together. Through her reflections on the Universal Apostolic Preferences and the work of reconciliation, she offers a powerful reminder of our mission and the importance of walking with and bearing witness to the experiences of Indigenous people. A testimony as we continue to strive to incarnate the Gospel and its values in our daily lives.

Consolations at Midland

Pilgrim Together reminds us that we are those who desire to incarnate the Gospel and its values for today, that we are an apostolic body. And indeed, for Ms. Mallay, the event “was truly a grace because I got to reconnect with Jesuits who had been at our school over the past twenty-three year. It’s so wonderful to reconnect with Ignatian people who have the same values, mission, and experiences.”

The apostolic document of the province also reminds that Fr. General said the UAPs are first and foremost about how we are called to “be”; about “how we live, how we work and how we relate to the people we serve”. At Midland, Ms. Mallay reflected on these UAPs: “I was very encouraged that the mission of what we are asked to do lines up very clearly with our UAPs, and it is what we are trying to do in our schools. So for me, it was reassuring that we are doing what we need to do as a Catholic Ignatian school.”

The Work of Reconciliation

“I loved visiting the shrine,” said Ms. Mallay. “I felt an overwhelming sense of peace in that space. It was a powerful experience, and the Indigenous elements woven into the mass were very comforting and reassuring that we are hearing the message that we need to do more, and we need to work towards truth and reconciliation, which is so important for Indigenous people. I also heard a lot of conversations around how the Catholic Church missed the boat during Pope Francis’s visit. This was also clear in the panel discussion with those who had attended the Pope’s visit: you felt the hurt of the Indigenous people, and that’s important.”

“We need to bear witness. We need to be witnesses to those experiences of those people. We have to walk with them,” as the second UAP calls us to. The Head of Administration, Ignatian Identity and Student Formation gives an example of how they walk with Indigenous people at St. Bonaventure’s College.

“We have children whose grandparents are survivors from residential schools, and the families experienced trauma. There is a friendship centre here, in Newfoundland, called First Light, that provides support and guides, especially for university students who are coming from Indigenous communities. First light also comes to our school: we do drumming circles with them, for example.”

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