Center for Ignatian Spirituality

Mission Statement

The Center for Ignatian Spirituality of Fairfield University welcomes those seeking to deepen their relationship with God and to enrich their daily lives. We offer spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition to guide individuals and groups in their journey toward this encounter, as St. Ignatius did, by “finding God in all things.” As part of this outreach, we also train spiritual directors who can assist individuals and groups in the discernment of God’s direction in their lives.

The Center's goals are to:

  • Establish a lasting infrastructure to serve as a repository and holder of the Jesuit values foundational to the culture of Fairfield University
  • Promote vibrant and attractive expressions of Ignatian spirituality at individual, group, and larger community levels, both on campus and in the Diocese of Bridgeport
  • Create a symbol that personifies the commitment of the University to these Ignatian values
  • Offer a space suitable for personal discernment, dedicated to the kinds of experimental and formative discussions about Jesuit and Catholic identity that animate Fairfield's institutional life


Programs Offered

Encountering the Living God Ignatian Encounter

‌A 10-week directed Ignatian prayer experience for students, faculty, and staff, involving:

  • An immediate experience of God
  • Being a contemplative in action
  • Finding God in all things
  • The meaning of the Magis
  • An experience of discernment

A Week of Guided Prayer

A Week of Directed Prayer is a one-week retreat made during the course of your everyday life. It leads any layperson into a week of listening with the heart of God and into recognizing one's feelings and emotional responses to God.


Students’ Ten-Week Ignatian Journey

Follows the model of the Encountering the Living God program, but is conducted in small, gender-specific groups. Intended for Fairfield University undergraduates, led by a team of Center directors and Student Life professionals.


Parish Ignatian Pilgrimage

A multi-month program offered in parishes of the Diocese of Bridgeport, providing participants with an introduction to Ignatian Spirituality in both theory and practice. The program includes lectures, discussions, faith-sharing groups and opportunities for individually directed prayer experiences. (Soon to be also offered in Spanish).


Finding God in All Things

A Religious Studies course offered to Fairfield University undergraduates every semester of the academic year. The course introduces students to Ignatius Loyola, and to his spiritual legacy, as expressed in his writings and in the history and on-going mission of the Jesuits. A component of the course is the opportunity to participate in the Encountering the Living God program.


Spiritual Direction

For anyone, of any faith, who is seeking a deeper connection with God. Meet with a spiritual director who can assist you in developing the skills needed to recognize the presence of God in your life.


A Retreat in Daily Life

A programmed series of prayer experiences, following the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which help the retreatant - the person making the retreat - open herself/himself to God. Retreatants make an approximate five-month commitment to spend an hour a day in prayer and reflection, and to meet weekly with a spiritual director for about an hour.


The Full Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola

An individually-directed retreat, usually lasting at least a year, during which time the retreatant meets weekly with a director and follow the model of prayer elaborated by St. Ignatius. The retreatant commits to daily prayer, while continuing his or her normal routine. This is known widely as “The Retreat in Daily Life” or “The Nineteenth Annotation Retreat.”


Life After the Exercises

Intended for those from the University and Prep community and beyond, who have completed the full Exercises of St. Ignatius and who seek to nourish and refresh the graces received during the Exercises. Includes annual retreat, regular study sessions on themes of Ignatian Spirituality, and small groups for faith-sharing.


Spiritual Direction Training

Through Fairfield’s Office of Community and Lifetime Education, the Center sponsors two programs:

  • A two-year certificate program conducted at Fairfield University, intended for persons with a ministerial and theological background who wish to be trained to be spiritual directors in the Ignatian Tradition. Please see below for more information.
  • A four-year program conducted at St. Francis Springs, Stoneville, NC, intended for those for whom extended periods of residency or weekly or monthly classes are not possible. To learn more about the four-year program, please visit the Spiritual Direction Formation Program page.

News & Announcements

A $4 million gift in honor of Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S. J., the President of Fairfield, has been made by long-time University supporter and 2011 honorary degree recipient, the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry, Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The gift will fund scholarships to enable deserving young people to pursue an education at Fairfield, and will permanently endow Fairfield’s Center for Ignatian Spirituality.


Two-Year Certificate Program for Spiritual Direction Training in the Ignatian Tradition

Developing a Listening Heart: Experiencing God in Myself and Others

The Center for Ignatian Spirituality of Fairfield University is pleased to offer a two-year certificate spiritual direction formation program in the Ignatian tradition for January 2018—December 2019. This program is for adults with a theological and ministerial background who feel called to serve in this ministry. It is designed for individuals whose schedules do not permit attendance at daytime or evening classes or extended periods of residency. After an annual one-week residency, the remainder of each of the two years is spent in distance learning from home, in addition to eight Saturday meetings.

This CIS program is based on and in addition to the current four-year program located in North Carolina.


Program Requirements - Two Years

  • One residential week each year in January at Mercy Center in Madison, Conn.: January 7-13, 2018 and January 6-12, 2019
  • Eight Saturdays each year: February, March, April, May, September, October, November, December (second Saturday of the month, full day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Monthly personal spiritual direction
  • Quarterly meetings (by phone) with a faculty advisor
  • Two, in-depth self-evaluations each year
  • Assigned readings and reflection papers throughout each year

(tracks will be integrated)

  • Coursework: Aspects of Ignatian Spirituality (authors include G. Aschenbrenner, W. and N. Au, W. Barry, W. Connelly, J. English, T. Gallagher, R. Haight, J. O’Malley, J. Melloni, J. Ruffing, M. Silf, J. Tetlow, M. Thibodeaux, J. Veale)
  • Special Topics: Discernment, Developmental Spirituality, Schools of Spirituality, Sexuality and Spirituality, Critical Psychological Issues, Enneagram, Dreams
  • Practicum: Case Studies, Verbatim, Peer Supervision, Role Play, Individual Direction/Supervision

Holy Listening as a form of faith sharing will be integral to all components of the program.


Candidates should:

  • Be a minimum of 30 years of age
  • Have an appropriate background in theology and ministry
  • Have received regular spiritual direction over a significant period of time
  • Be an active member of a faith community


The program is open to 15 participants.

  • Participants must be in their own direction and supervision
  • During their formation, each participant will have two or three directees whom they see once a month
  • The growth of each participant, both as a director and directee, will be monitored by his/her faculty mentor

Faculty mentors will consult with supervisors to discuss each intern and his or her progress guided by the goals and expectation of the formation program.


Tuition of $3,000 covers the two, week-long intensives, eight Saturday seminars each year, supervision, and quarterly phone meetings with faculty mentors. Interns are responsible for the costs of room and board at the intensives at Mercy Center, as well as their own spiritual direction fees. Financial aid is available to those with a legitimate need


Fairfield U student has a 1 on 1 meeting with Fr. Gerry BlaszczakFr. Gerry Blaszczak, S.J.
, is co-director of the Spiritual Direction Training Program sponsored by the Center. Fr. Blaszczak, Director of the Center, previously served as University Chaplain and Vice President for Mission and Identity at Fairfield, and had served in the same roles at Fordham University. Holding a Ph.D. from Harvard University in New Testament, and with secondary specialization in Islamic Studies, Fr. Blaszczak has been on the faculty of Le Moyne College, Fordham University and Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya. He was Novice Director for the Maryland and New York Provinces of the Jesuits, superior of the Fordham Jesuit community, parochial vicar at St. Raphael’s Church in Raleigh, N.C. pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan, and Secretary for the Service of Faith at the Jesuit General Headquarters in Rome.

Karen Doyle, SSJ, is co-director of the Spiritual Direction Training at the Center and assistant director at St. Joseph Retreat Center in Cohasset, Mass. She has been ministering as a spiritual director, retreat director, and supervisor of spiritual directors for 24 years. Sr. Karen served the past 12 years at St. Ignatius Retreat House, Manhasset, N.Y., as director of the formation program for adjuncts and staff associates, director of the 30 day retreat practicum, and co-director of the supervision practicum. Prior to that, Sr. Karen served eight years on staff at the Center for Spirituality in Chestnut Hill, Penn., offering eight-day and 30-day retreats; and four years on staff in Guelph, Canada. She has been involved in the formation of spiritual directors in Ignatian Spirituality in the U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Denmark and the Philippines, and has served as director of the Spiritual Exercises (Annotations 19 and 20). She holds a D.Min in Spiritual Direction from the Graduate Theological Foundation, Indiana; a master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, Nebraska; a bachelor’s degree in psychology; and a Certificate in Supervision from Chestnut Hill College, Pennsylvania.

Tracey Robert, PhD, LPC is associate dean in the Graduate School of Education & Allied Professions at Fairfield University, as well as associate professor of counselor education, and director of clinical training. She is also a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Connecticut. Dr. Robert’s educational background includes a doctorate in counselor education from Mississippi State University in 2003, for which she wrote a dissertation on the relationship between spirituality and job satisfaction. She earned a master's degree in community counseling from Fairfield University in 1978; and a bachelor’s degree from Dunbarton College in 1974. Dr. Robert has been a faculty member at Fairfield University since 1996, and nationally certified as a career counselor since 1983.


If you wish to speak to a Center staff member, please contact Colleen Gilbertson at 203-254-4000 ext. 3468.

External Resources

Both of these sites are resources produced by the Loyola Press. The first is seven variations of the traditional Ignatian Examen accompanied by your choice of music. These different patterns offer a means to enhance ones participation in a very practical Ignatian mode of prayer. The second is a month long program celebrating important aspects of Ignatian Spirituality through various types of media.


Contact Us

Fr. Gerry Blaszczak headshot‌For more information, contact:

Fr. Gerry Blaszczak, Director
203-254-4000, ext. 3468

Fairfield University
Dolan House, room 106
Fairfield, CT  06824

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