More than 70,000 people in fifty countries have participated in an online Pentecost prayer vigil that united the global Jesuit and Ignatian family on an unprecedented scale. The complex undertaking took place on the vigil of Pentecost, in three separate time zones across the globe.
After Jesuit Superior General, Very Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., welcomed participants, they prayed together, heard testimonies and a multilingual rendition of the ancient hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, and lit candles as they prayed for God’s Spirit to come powerfully into their midst during Pentecost.
“The event was a real Pentecost moment,” said Rev. James Hanvey, S.J., global Secretary of Faith for the Jesuits, “COVID-19 is ravaging our planet, and what better response than to pray, as a global community: ‘Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.’ And, just as that first Pentecost, when speakers of many different languages could all understand what the Spirit-led apostles were communicating, so too during this Vigil: we all prayed and spoke in different languages, but we all felt united and understood each other. The event turned out to be way more powerful than we had hoped or imagined.” A recording of the half-hour event remains available at Pentecost.jesuits.global
A dozen Jesuits and lay collaborators drawn from nine countries served as the initial organizing committee, but the Vigil was embraced, sponsored, and promoted by dozens of Jesuit networks all over the world, which accounts for its success. Dani Villanueva, S.J., leader of the jesuit.network initiative - one of the organizers -, said: “We engaged Jesuit and Ignatian networks around the globe, and we estimate that as many as a million persons received notice of the Vigil: They were with us in Spirit, even if not all of them could join us online. Many were consoled to know that, despite the isolation caused by the pandemic, the global Ignatian community was praying with them and for them.”
Though this was the first-ever effort to gather the Ignatian family on such a scale, it won’t be the last. “We’ve already begun thinking about how we will gather again to pray and celebrate on St. Ignatius Day, July 31,” said Robert Ballecer, S.J., who heads New Media efforts at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome.
“Unified prayer is only one dimension of the impact that working as one network can have, there is potential for greater actions to respond to the needs of our communities and the Earth” added Christopher Kerr, who heads the Ignatian Solidarity Network in the United States. “Online engagement in the last two months has increased exponentially for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. We are seeing how many people in the Ignatian network feel a hunger to come together, even if virtually, to pray together, but also for social justice education and advocacy, to network in the context of their Jesuit education and Ignatian spiritual formation.”
The logistically complex Vigil was conceived, planned, and executed in less than thirty days; the planning experience, and the Vigil’s success, proved both eye-opening and invigorating for those involved. Said JBoy Gonzalez, S.J., of the Jesuit Communications Foundation in Manila, “Many of those who shared prayers or testimony during the Vigil noted that God’s Holy Spirit has been acting in their lives and work in ways that they never could have anticipated. Well, we seem to be discovering the same thing as a Jesuit, Ignatian family: God has blessed us with this amazing network of schools, parishes, spirituality centers, social justice initiatives and countless other ministries all over the world; and technology has given us some tools to activate and cross-fertilize this vast network. But up to now, we’ve not realized, much less actualized, our potential. Maybe the Pentecost Vigil has been the moment where God’s Holy Spirit gave us a wakeup call: Hey, my children, the Church and world need you to take better advantage of this amazing network for God’s Greater Glory. AMDG!”
The thirty-minute Vigil and a video montage of pictures posted from around the globe remains available at Pentecost.jesuits.global.The organizers invite everyone not only to pray through the Vigil stream but also to share their own prayers, petitions, or comments on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #TogetherAMDG. The organizers also invite all those who are interested in helping brainstorm, organize, or promote future offerings to contact email@example.com.
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