News Detail
Australian Jesuit Shares His Antarctic Chaplaincy Experience

May 29, 2013 — Visiting the South Pole was one of the items on Australian Jesuit Father Michael Smith’s “bucket list.” He doubted he would ever tick it off until he heard about the Antarctic Chaplaincy Program, which sends chaplains to serve the scientists, staff and military personnel at McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research center.

Because Antarctica is so remote and medical facilities are limited, Fr. Smith had to undergo extensive medical checks beforehand. He passed and found himself on a plane to Antarctica this past December to serve for four weeks.

While Fr. Smith had researched Antarctica before he left, he writes, “nothing prepared me for the physical vastness and the beauty I encountered when I stepped out of the aircraft onto the ice runway.

“In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests that we consider how God works and labors for us in all things created on the face of the earth. In Antarctica, it is not hard to see God at work in the beauty of creation — in the mountain ranges, in the ice sheet, in the limitless blue sky, in the vastness of the continent, in the seals, in the penguins.”

Fr. Smith, who is dean of Sentir Graduate College of Spiritual Formation in Melbourne, Australia, says that the aspect of life at McMurdo that will stay with him most is the relationships. “With about 1000 people at the station and with us all eating together in the galley, a strong sense of community grew. I found the conversations over meals and the friendships that were forged very life-giving. These conversations often turned to things of God, and discussing the meaning of life was an important part of my role.”

As chaplain, Fr. Smith celebrated Mass and prayed daily in the Chapel of the Snows, which looks out over the Ross Ice Shelf towards Mount Discovery. “It was very peaceful and unhurried,” he writes. “The silence of Antarctica was immense and very conducive to prayer.”

Fr. Smith says the most memorable thing he did was visiting the South Pole. “I put on my extreme cold-weather clothing and walked over to the magnetic South Pole. At this point on the earth, everywhere is north,” he recalls. “At this place I found myself moved to pray for peace on earth.”

To read more of Fr. Smith’s reflections on his time in Antarctica, visit Kairos Magazine and Fr. Smith’s website, antarcticjesuit.com.





Recent News

July 7, 2020 — Like most in-person events, coronavirus has forced legislative advocacy online. Here's how Jesuit organizations are adapting to this new reality.


June 30, 2020 — A roundup of recent awards, appointments and news from Jesuits around Canada and the U.S.

June 29, 2020 — Shannon K. Evans, a writer and mother of five, chronicles moments of grace in her daily life.

June 29, 2020 — The tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Sean Monterrosa and many others by law enforcement officers are horrific reminders of the legacy of systemic racism in the United States.

June 26, 2020 — Catholic leaders voiced their support for the LGBTQ community in a video released June 18.

June 24, 2020 — Dr. Fauci graduated from two Jesuit schools.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 10/14/19

America 9/30/19

America 9/16/19



Jesuit Spirituality Center
Situated on 900 acres of farmland, the Jesuit Spirituality Center at Grand Coteau provides a quiet environment for those seeking God through the Spiritual Exercises.