|Fr. Marcello Mastrilli, S.J.|
For the 76th year, members of the Jesuit parish in Southeast Portland are gathering morning and night for their annual Novena of Grace, nine days of prayers asking St. Francis Xavier to intercede on their behalf. St. Ignatius is a Jesuit parish, and some of the prayers offered during the novena have been for the Jesuits, who are awaiting a settlement in two-year-old bankruptcy case. The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in February 2009 in the wake of sex-abuse lawsuits. Between 2001 and early 2009, the province settled more than 200 legal claims, paying out $25 million.
The parish, served by Jesuits for its 104-year history, isn't sure how the settlement might affect them, but they voice concern for the men they've known as priests and brothers. "For all the Society of Jesus, our brother Jesuits," the congregation prayed Thursday. "As they are forced to relinquish so much, may they never let go of us or our God." The Jesuit Novena of Grace goes back to the 17th century, when a priest, Marcello Mastrilli, said he had a vision of the Jesuit saint, Francis Xavier, who promised to assist and protect anyone who sincerely sought his help.
Novenas themselves date from the third century and are seen by many Catholics as opportunities to pray with an open heart. "This is as simple and as direct as it can be," the Rev. Rick Ganz, a Jesuit priest, told worshippers as the Thursday morning Mass began. "We kneel and pray, 'This is what I seek, dear Lord...'" In a reflection, parishioner Mike Buck encouraged people to add their written petitions and prayers of thanks so the whole congregation can pray over them during the novena. "We gather as sufferers and causes of suffering," with hurts so great, so personal, that other people's attempts to dismiss or diminish them fail.
Link (here) to the Oregonian