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Dear Director of Work and Colleagues,

Warmest greetings and peace of Christ! As we enter the joy of the Easter Season, I trust this letter finds you well. I write to express my gratitude for your support of our ongoing planning efforts and to share some early fruits of those spiritual conversations.

As you likely know, as part of our robust and meaningful discernment process, we have convened regional, sectoral, and community groups across our Province. These conversations provided input into the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAP) which Fr. General Arturo Sosa, S.J. promulgated after receiving confirmation from Pope Francis. They continue to benefit our ongoing planning in the Midwest Province as well. As part of this process in your region, we discovered both a need for and a desire to engage more deliberately in Ignatian Formation within and across our apostolates.

Our new UAP’s are not, as Fr. General cautions us, mere tasks: they are horizons or attitudes for how we go about our ministry. Much like the beatitudes inform and inspire how we go about any of our pastoral, social justice or education ministries, the UAP’s give grounding to our work. As Fr. General writes, “Our desire has been to find the best way to collaborate in the Lord’s mission, the best way to serve the Church at this time, the best contribution we can make with what we are and have, seeking to do what is for the greater divine service and the more universal good.” We, too, recognized that our ministries are effective when they can draw upon persons who “want to share with others the most fundamental discovery of our lives, namely, that discernment and the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius show the way to God.”

Therefore, to help kindle this flame, we are embarking on an apostolic experiment in your region. A new pilot initiative in the Chicago and Milwaukee region entitled “Seminars in Ignatian Formation” (SIF) seeks to build the capacity across our sponsored works to form people for spiritual leadership and thus aid your mission effectiveness. We are blessed with a strong Ignatian charism alive in our works already; this initiative seeks to build upon that energy and help prepare the next generation of spiritual leaders formed with more knowledge and passion for Ignatian Spirituality, spiritual direction, and the Spiritual Exercises.

As this initiative begins, I ask you to nominate participants whom you think will benefit from the experience and to support them in this process. Rev. Stephen Krupa, S.J. or Mr. Jordan Skarr from my staff may be in touch with you with more details. Thank you for participating generously.

Lastly, we know that our needs are great, and that no one initiative can solve everything: there is liberation in realizing that. We know too that our faith inspires us to try new things and to pursue that which can help us more fervently proclaim the Gospel. The Easter Season invites us to hope, or to believe in that which is not seen. May that grace be with us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

V. Rev. Brian G. Paulson, SJ
USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus

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