Take a dozen Jesuits. Make them stand at seven stations on a route between a shrine near Budapest and their community house in the capital of Hungary. Ask them to describe each step of the Jesuit formation at the consecutive stops. Add them a hundred friends, and get the whole lot of people run or walk the 9 kilometre distance amidst the woods. Fill the sporting activity with spiritual content, and encourage the participants to dedicate every joy and pain the physical exercise has to offer to the present and future members of the Society of Jesus. After crossing the finish line, cook goulash for more than a hundred in the garden of the Jesuit community. Draught beer and fine lemonade is also a must. Blend it with nice jazz music. Finally serve it in bright autumn sunshine, and there you have the recipe of the first Hungarian Jesuit community run/walk.
This unique occasion took place on the last Saturday of September as one of the major events in the Year of Vocations proclaimed by the Hungarian Jesuit province at the beginning of 2019. The members and friends of the Society of Jesus in Hungary have a long history of joining foot races, but this time they – implementing vocation promoter Bálint Nagy SJ’s concept – decided to organise a fun run of their own. What is more, it was not actually a competition, but an event where the spiritual aspect was at least as important as physical activity. The entire day was given a frame story, in which the participants, as if “wannabe” Jesuits themselves, followed the stations of the formation step by step from the noviciate to the final vow and ordination, halting for two minutes at the stops and listening to the Jesuits there presenting their actual studies in a nutshell.
The venue of the event was also telling. The popular hiking destination used to be the „spiritual port” of the Jesuits before the transition in 1990, when in Communist times the shrine dedicated to Virgin Mary housed their noviciate. It was also in this church where a Jesuit general paid his first visit ever to Hungary in 1978. Pedro Arrupe met with the Hungarian Jesuits working half illegally in the country, and presented them a chalice to encourage his persecuted companions to keep their faith and commitment. It was a touching moment at the mass celebrated prior to the run when socius Zoltán Koronkai SJ told the participants: the silver grail they can see standing on the altar is the very same one that Father Arrupe gave the Hungarian Jesuits nearly half a century before.