Spiritan Features

Celebrating the memory of Blessed Jacques Laval C.S.Sp.

The annual feast-day of Blessed Jacques Laval, who is venerated as the Apostle of Mauritius, is celebrated on 9th September.  In Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, this is not just a Spiritan or diocesan feast-day but is celebrated across the entire nation. It is quite a spectacle to see Adventists, Anglicans, Catholics, Hindus, Shias and Sunnis all converging on the tomb of the Spiritan. One thing that many of the pilgrims will have in common is that they represent the poorest sections of society.

The segment of the population most attached to the veneration of Laval is the Creole people –  the descendants of slaves and often the poorest and most vulnerable of Mauritians. It is no surprise that the Spiritan university of Duquesne in the USA has endowed the Jacques Laval Chair for Justice for Vulnerable Peoples in its School of Nursing.

Laval’s method of mission was simple. He was available and generous with his time and he facilitated (lay) associates to spread out across the island to build up local faith communities. It was very much a ministry of presence and accompaniment.

In Irish society today, despite our material wealth and scientific advances, there are still many vulnerable populations struggling to survive and maintain their dignity. At SPIRASI, (www.spirasi.ie), the asylum-seeker initiative of the Irish Spiritan Province, we reach out to refugees and asylum-seekers who land on our shores.  As SPIRASI is currently looking for volunteers for its befriending service, perhaps this is just one way that we can celebrate Blessed Jacques Laval’s memory, and honour our Mission in the Ireland of today?