I’ll keep working at it

A St Aloysius' pupil runs across the playground, happy

Sculpture at St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster depicting two figures reaching out to hold hands

Today we pray in offering for greater unity.

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I don’t think it was ever mentioned, but it was there, all right

So what is there to say about the influence my own Ignatian formation had on me? Well, to be honest, it wasn’t something that was ever emphasised when I was a pupil at St Aloysius’ College in Glasgow between 1967-1973. In fact, I don’t think it was ever mentioned.

But it was there, all right. When I attended a Shared Vision conference at Campion Hall in Oxford run by Fr Adrian Porter SJ three years ago, I felt a bit of a fraud, because after 35 years’ teaching back at St Aloysius’ College I really should have been confident in my own knowledge of what was to be discussed … and I wasn’t. However, the three days I spent there were three of the most reassuring I’ve had in my soon-to-end 38-year career in Jesuit education.

Learning to do goodAction is far more important than talking

What I realised was that action is far more important than talking, and that I’d probably been implementing that undefined programme of Ignatian formation which stretched back to the late Sixties throughout my adult life. Why? Because some of the Jesuits and lay teachers who had been on staff at St Aloysius’ College, first as my teachers and later as my colleagues, had set excellent examples through the way they treated those under their care. The new boy who didn’t know anyone was befriended; the boy who showed talent in sport was encouraged; the boy who displayed leadership qualities was given responsibility. That boy was me. And when Fr Pedro Arrupe visited Glasgow in 1970, everything started falling into place.

Teaching by example

I think I have a reputation for being considerate and patient and I’m sure that has its roots in my time at school. When I went to university to study Modern Languages I knew that I wanted to travel, but also to teach, so where better to work than St Aloysius’ College in Glasgow? As I’ve grown older, the principles of treating others with dignity, learning about how others live and having an open mind have become more important to me and I’ve tried to make sure that they’ve underpinned the way I’ve lived my life, not just in school but wherever I’ve been. Teaching by example is far more effective than teaching a lesson – I just hope that I’ve been able to live up to the Jesuits and others who were my mentors.

And if you’re a former pupil of mine who’s reading this and thinking that I failed, I hope you can exercise some charity and forgive me for what I got wrong. I’ll keep working at it.

That’s something else I learned from the Jesuits!

Frank McWilliams

Go Deeper

“From as early as the Junior School I remember writing AMDG, ‘For the greater glory of God’, at the top of my work. It reminds us that, although our school work is there to help us develop as individuals, it is still so important to always do our best for the greater good and for the glory of God.” Honor Mcwilliams

Read more >>

The crest of St Aloysius' College GlasgowFor a deeper look at formation at St Aloysius' College Glasgow, have a read of this.

Christian Formation: Finding God in All Things

Shared Vision is a programme of formation for teachers and support staff who work in Jesuits schools. Shared Vision 3 took place at Campion Hall, Oxford in June. Peter O'Sullivan SJ wrote a report. Read the report>>

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