Certificate Program in Directing Ignatian Spiritual Exercises introduced this summer at Fairfield University


A year-long Certificate Program in Directing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises has been introduced at Fairfield University this summer. A Jesuit Collaborative Initiative of the Maryland, New York, and New England Provinces, the program is geared to those who are considering a call to direct the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or who are seeking a better grasp and understanding of the dynamics of the Exercises.

Begun by St. Ignatius of Loyola as a result of his own experience of religious conversion and formation, the Spiritual Exercises are a guide to seeking God in intelligent and humble ways and then with God's grace, "finding God in all things." They have been described as spiritual exercises of the mind, memory, will and imagination, analogous to running and swimming for the physical improvement of the body, with the purpose being to enable one to discover one's vocation in life and to live in accord with God's desires.

Fr. Jim Bowler, S.J., university facilitator for Catholic and Jesuit Mission and Identity at Fairfield University, directs the certificate program, assisted by three faculty from the Jesuit Collaborative Provincial office and four professors from Fairfield's Department of Religious Studies: Dr. Paul Lakeland, director of the Center for Catholic Studies; Dr. Nancy Dallavalle, chair of the department; Dr. Elizabeth Dreyer, author of several books on spirituality who was recently selected for a first-place award by the Catholic Press Association for her book, "Making Sense of God;" and Dr. John Thiel, Vice President of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) who will assume the presidency of the CTSA in June 2011.

The Certificate Program is designed to form well-prepared directors of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises for the Retreat in Daily Life, called the 19th Annotated Retreat, or the 30-Day Retreat. With a prayerful, reflective atmosphere of learning and discerning, participants explore the theological and scriptural foundations of the Spiritual Exercises and focus on the dynamic of discernment. While developing empathic listening skills especially for the purpose of directing the Spiritual Exercises, they use a range of Christian prayer modes in the context of Ignatian Spirituality.

The structure of the program includes a four-week summer residency program on theory and practice, followed by an eight-month "at home" supervised practicum supported by an online learning component. Next summer the class will complete the program with a three-week summer residency program on theory and practice, taking place again on the Fairfield University campus.

A new class will also begin next summer. The program is geared to those who have completed the 30-day or 19th annotated retreat or those who are involved in ongoing spiritual direction.

For further information, please contact Fr. Jim Bowler, S.J., at (203) 254-4000, ext. 7203 or jbowler@fairfield.edu.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 29, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 19