Love is one thing that runs through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (otherwise known as the Jesuits). This is clear from the beginning of this classical formula of prayer where St. Ignatius invites the one making the exercises to contemplate that all created things have their origin in love, to the end where he (St. Ignatius) recommends a contemplation to attain or gain this supreme love of God. At the end of the exercises, St. Ignatius highlights that love ought to be manifested more in actions or deeds than in words. No doubt, St Ignatius learnt this love that expresses itself in practical things from the Father who so loved the world that He acted out that love by giving His only begotten Son (cf. John 3:16); from the Son Himself who had no greater love for His friends than that He gave up His own life for them (cf. John 15:13); and from the Spirit who is the fruit of that love of the Father and the Son. This love is equally at the heart of Jesuit education.
The service of love to one’s community and the world is integral to Jesuit education. Our programme at Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt is not just about learning; it is service-learning – a holistic learning that prepares our students to be at the service of others, thus making them, in the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ, men and women for others. For this reason, we introduced our students to the JMC Service Programme at the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic session.
Through the Service Programme, our JMC students, like their counterparts in many Jesuit schools across the globe, are invited and helped to grow in social sensitivity and responsibility by learning to gain understanding about people’s lives and how our society does and does not take care of its most vulnerable members.
The Service Programme provides our students with the opportunity for direct contact with the poor and for service to them, both in the school and in outside service projects. It enables our students to learn in concrete and practical ways, to love all as brothers and sisters in the human community, and also in order to come to a better understanding of the causes of poverty and many other problems in our human society. It provides a pragmatic context for helping our students acquire a faith-rooted spirit of social consciousness and responsibility.
We are filled with gratitude for some members of our student body who have volunteered and have made a commitment amidst their busy schedule here at JMC, to the educational growth of our host communities of Mbodo-Aluu and Eliokpokwodu. Every Saturday during the JMC academic session, since January 2017, these volunteer students teach children from our host communities of nursery and primary school ages English Language, Arithmetic, Handwriting and Science for two hours. More than teaching these subjects, they also act as head teachers, deans of studies, disciplinarians, secretaries, class teachers and supporting teachers (or minders).
Beyond all these and above all, these students have been deeply involved in the scheming and planning of the lessons that have been taught so far in the academic year of the programme. This is going a long way in contributing to the building of peer mentorship and leadership abilities in our JMC students.
It is our hope that our JMC parents and guardians will help their children and wards to continue to make a bold decision to be part of the JMC Service Programme and to support the programme all the way through. We welcome all aboard JMC Service Programme where we always look forward to a strong display of love more in actions than in words!
Kingsley Chikwendu Madubuike, SJ.
Director, Service Programme.