You might say this meeting was a long time coming. This “long time” could easily refer to the hours of travelling by the delegates. It could also be a nod to the several months of planning this meeting, or even, the seventeen and a half years since the first podcast episode of Pray As You Go. But in reality, this meeting was closer to 500 years in the making.

In 1534, St Ignatius and his first companions gathered in a chapel on the hillside of Montmartre, Paris. It was here that these friends united and made vows to work together in a common mission; they became The Society of Jesus. 

There’s little doubt that the first Jesuits at this moment in history would have been thrilled to know that in almost 500 years’ time, a group of fourteen people from around the world would meet on that very spot, to continue this common mission of accompanying people from all backgrounds, on their journeys in prayer and inspired by the Gospel. This was certainly felt by Dominik Dubiel SJ, who said of the meeting, “I think every one of us could feel something in the very deep level that binds us together, that connects us”.

The goal of the meeting was to learn how to support each other better in this common mission; to share and listen to the achievements and creativity of each language version, and to spend time in prayer and discernment together. Paula de Wailly from Prie en Chemin (the French language version), described the meeting as, “a renewal in our faith and in Ignatian Spirituality; to have it communicated through different eyes and different cultures.” This celebration of different cultures and experiences held a certain preciousness amidst so many global challenges. 

Since its beginnings by British Jesuit Fr Peter Scally SJ in 2006, PAYG has grown to a total of 17 languages, with delegates at this meeting representing nine countries: Egypt, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Spain, the UK and Ukraine. Many of those attending said it was an important and renewing experience to be among others who hold a very deep and shared understanding of the work they do each day. 

Ewelina Bajor of Einfach Beten! (the German language version), said for her, it was great to be “part of something so much bigger, knowing that we reach people everywhere, all over the world.” 

The total sum of daily combined listeners for all the different versions is being explored, however the estimated combined reach is just under half a million people each day. Emma Holland, the UK Director of Pray As You Go was incredibly moved and inspired by the meeting, saying that she “hopes it will pave the way for a greater experience of God through prayer around the world, just as Ignatius and his friends had hoped.”

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