In Marseille, young people grateful for the heritage of Saint Ignatius



“I’ve been asked to share my ball with you… I’ll do it, but first, do you know the story of Saint Ignatius’s ball?” “ Short hair and purple tunic, Sister Céline Zimmermann readily calls out to her young audience. About ten of them listen to the Help of Christians, sitting around her on the floor. Several similar groups, all gathered around a different “witness”, dot the cloister of the Vieille Charité, in the Panier district. This Saturday, October 30, the first of the three days of the gathering of the Ignatian family in Marseille, any shelter is good to take: it has been raining continuously since morning.

→ CONTEXT. For All Saints’ Day, the great Ignatian family gathered in Marseille

“It’s still original: the Ignatian year that opened on May 20 celebrates the 500th anniversary of the meeting between Ignatius and a cannonball! “ continues Sister Céline, smiling. She tells how the young Spaniard saw his leg shattered during the siege of Pamplona in 1521, and how this unexpected event changed his life. “It was this cannonball that enabled him to become Saint Ignatius of Loyola: lame, he could no longer be a knight of the king’s court as he had always dreamed of. He changed course, eventually becoming a knight of Christ. “

The students, coming in particular from the Icam engineering school, founded by the Jesuits, are waiting for the rest. What they want to know above all is what “ball” has got in the way of the petulant nun they have in front of them. As promised, she tells them about this episode of her childhood: a violent family break-up that prevented her from making choices and getting involved for a long time. ” But the story does not end there ! ” The Sister Help of Christians continues on another cannonball, positive this one: the World Youth Days of 1997, in Paris, which “Launched” in faith.

1,500 EYM middle and high school students

“My parents met at these WYDs! ” points out Claire-Ivy, 19. Ignatian spirituality, this student in Angers knows well. She even fell into it when she was little, with the summer camps of the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM). “The EYM, it built me: for autonomy, responsibility, faith …”, will she tell the group once the testimony is over?. “I missed this atmosphere too much, that’s why I signed up for this gathering”, Claire adds. This student in Marseille was delighted to guide her small group through the streets of her city for this afternoon of “wandering” which led them to the sand-colored vaults of the Vieille Charité. They now need to find a dry place for a moment of collective sharing, before dinner and then evenings.

If the gathering “Off with Ignatius! »Gives pride of place to couples and religious, young people constitute a significant part of the 7,000 people who converged on Marseille. 1,500 middle and high school students from the EYM, but also 300 students and young professionals from the Magis Network, not to mention the young members of the Chemin-Neuf community, the Christian Movement of Executives (MCC) or the Community of Christian Life (CLC) .

At a time of important life choices, spiritual discernment, the keystone of Ignatian spirituality, can be a precious ally. As for this thirty-year-old doctor from Perpignan, Laure, who tells how attentive listening to her “Inner movements” with the help of a Xaviere nun allowed her to leave a hospital where she was exhausted. Or for this Parisian lawyer of the same age, Louise, who this summer decided to get married at the end of a “Déclic year” offered by the Magis Network.

“Devote time” to your choices

“The accompaniment was really respectful, advocating freedom above all and shattering the idea of wedding evidence””, She says, seated in a restaurant in the Old Port where she dines in the company of the participants in the vigil that she has chosen among thirteen proposals, “Justice and ecology”. Louise continues: “I like this very Ignatian idea that important choices deserve time, and toss them through heart, body and mind. “

Contrary to the somewhat serious image which is sometimes attached to it, the Ignatian family will also have offered themselves moments of pure joy, at the beginning of the Marseille gathering. In particular during the Diony’s Voice gospel concert held in Chanot Park, not far from Louise’s “Justice and Ecology” vigil. This non-confessional choir created in 2016 in Saint-Denis under the leadership of the young Jesuit Louis Lorieux, choir director, was greeted with an endless ovation after two hours of negro-spirituals and traditional songs.

Among the dancers were young people from the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and among the choristers, young people close to Ignatian spirituality. Including Marie Julienne, 27, employee of Maison Magis in Paris. “With such a diversity of origins and social backgrounds, this choir is for me an opening to something else. I really like his energy! And the fact that this music, gospel, engages the whole body and directly touches the heart. “

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