In an insightful conversation, theology student Erik Sorensen, SJ, shares his experiences at Regis College and the Regis Jesuit Community in Toronto, Ontario, and how they live out the Universal Apostolic Preferences. He provides a unique lens on the practical application of Pilgrims Together – With Jesus in Mission, the apostolic planning document of the Jesuits of Canada, offering key takeaways for Jesuits and their colleagues across the country.
The Regis College community, through communal discernment, has reinforced their unity and widened their engagement. Sorensen underscores the benefits of collaboration, notably through the Federation agreement with St. Michael’s College. He also discusses the implementation of the First Spiritual Exercises program at Regis College and Our Lady of Lourdes parish, which fostered collaborative opportunities and deepened the community’s connection to the Ignatian tradition.
Moreover, he reflects on our responsibility to walk alongside Indigenous Peoples.
Did you find fruits of Pilgrims Together in your Jesuit community at Regis College?
Yes! Michael Rosinski, our Rector, launched a communal discernment process in our community of over 35 people. We have been engaged in reflecting as a community and in a very concrete way together about our common life and how we want to live it out. Our discernment highlighted our desire to continue to have a strong community, focused on the quality of our gathering together.
We also wanted to find ways of engaging with the wider community at Regis College. For example, the Federation agreement with St. Michael’s College has been a way of formalizing our collaboration in a broader way, of bringing together two traditions, and working towards a more holistic Catholic education.
How have you been working with Pilgrims Together at Regis College?
One of the things that a group of scholastics at Regis College has been doing is working with the First Spiritual Exercises program. It is a material that an Australian Jesuit put together to introduce people to the Spiritual Exercises. We used that at Regis College to help introduce students to the Spiritual Exercises and then another group of scholastics in our community took that same program and adapted it to use at Our Lady of Lourdes parish. This is a resource that has been used to journey together with the people that we are serving both at Regis College and at the parish.
Do you see the fruits of this work?
I would say the opportunity to collaborate was a major fruit of this work. I collaborated with two other religious, a Xavier sister and a Loretto sister, to put the program on. Just having young religious collaborating together, finding a common apostolate, and sharing the mission, was a fruit.
I would say the opportunity to collaborate was a major fruit of this work.
Sharing and introducing people to the Spiritual Exercises, especially for the students at the College, was a way of connecting with the Ignatian tradition and going deeper. Especially the first time we offered the program. Because of the pandemic, the first time we met had to be online: it was a way of gathering together, of building community at a time when we were in dispersion.
“We want not just to serve but to walk with Indigenous Peoples,” says Pilgrims Together. How do Jesuits live this?
Reflecting on Pilgrims Together,
Gilles Mongeau, SJ, socius of the Jesuit of Canada, said : "One concrete, very important element is our relationship with the Indigenous Peoples. I think more and more, the members of the province and the apostolates of the province are taking into account the authenticity of that relationship, or the lack of authenticity of that relationship. They're taking it seriously and trying to move, to get in touch with the local Indigenous people to find out how to walk together, to listen to each other."
We need to use our position within the Church to advocate alongside Indigenous Peoples, to try and make concrete changes.
I think a big part of the Jesuits being Pilgrims together with Indigenous people has just been being present to our Indigenous brothers and sisters, to listen to them. For example, the Listening to Indigenous Voices resources of the Jesuit Forum are one way in which the Jesuits in Canada have put the Indigenous perspective first. But we also need to take the Pope’s apologies and make them concrete in terms of action for the Church. We need to use our position within the Church to advocate alongside Indigenous Peoples, to try and make concrete changes.