Inter-noviciate Formation in Innsbruck

For a fabulous five-days in February, our CJ noviciate team was welcomed to the Jesuit College in Innsbruck, home to the Central European Jesuit noviciate community.

There may have still been snow on the mountain tops but the welcome from our Jesuit companions was nothing but warm. After years when so much of our lives has had to be online, it was great to be able to meet up in person for our biannual inter-noviciate formation.

Joining the CJ and SJ novices and formators were novices and formators from the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace and the Sisters of St Paul who all travelled from England to join the group. We started each day with Holy Mass in the chapel of the Jesuit College, for which different sisters were asked to prepare an introductory reflection. On Ash Wednesday, we joined the Jesuit parish in Holy Trinity Church.

We were extremely fortunate to have as our guest speaker, Fr Georg Fischer SJ, who led us in three days of scriptural studies and prayer. We were assigned meditations on important passages of the Old Testament (for example Gen 12: 1-3, Gen 12: 4-9, Num 6: 22-27), and also practised new methods of group prayer and sharing, which we were also invited to actively lead. We had been invited to send in questions from any area of the Old Testament or Gospels for question and discussion and so the content was wide and varied as many different topics were considered. The formation was in English but between us we represented nine different European countries and this really added a richness and diversity to our sharing.

Of course, as well as our intellectual formation, our time together was also an opportunity to deepen existing friendships and to meet new companions who are also travelling the path of discernment into religious life. During our time together, we discovered the centre of Innsbruck, with an informative presentation of the history and sights given by the hosting novices, and admired the beautiful scenic views whilst hiking or simply sitting on the roof terrace (see the first picture!). For dining, we were invited to join the Jesuit community in their refectory, which was a cherished opportunity to be part of the college and to meet some of the Jesuits in Innsbruck. 

The night before Lent began, in true Austrian fashion, we celebrated Fasching (Carnival). As individuals and groups, we performed music and games and acted out sketches for each other. Our CJ community gave a brief summary of the life of Mary Ward with Sr Johanna taking on the role of our foundress and Srs. Bianca, Kamila and Charlotte giving clues to the audience in word and action so they could guess what was happening. We won't win an Oscar any time soon but we certainly made everyone laugh! 

Thanks must go to those who organised this time of formation together, especially to the Jesuit community in Innsbruck. We look forward to our next time together.

Charlotte and Kamila, CJ novices

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