Dr. Rita Dollard-O’Malley, codirector of the Seminars in Ignatian Formation (SIF), described the motivation behind the program’s inception: “SIF responds to our call to act upon the Universal Apostolic Preferences. We are inviting all women and men who serve in any of our Jesuit works to come and gain skills for spreading the transformative experience of Ignatian spirituality that flows from the Spiritual Exercises. SIF provides the charism of Ignatian leadership and the training to accompany others in the Exercises.”
Father Steve Krupa, SJ, SIF codirector, explains the three progressive seminars that run from September to early May:
- Seminar 1 is a good basic theology and Ignatian spirituality course for anyone working in our institutions. Among those who work in our Jesuit institutions and those who want training to be spiritual directors of the Spiritual Exercises, there are some who have no theological or Ignatian spirituality background. Seminar 1 provides these foundations.
Seminar 2 continues the education in Ignatian spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises, and it begins the training
in spiritual listening that is required in effective pastoral ministry and spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition.
- Seminar 3 is the supervised internship practicum in giving the Spiritual Exercises to others in the 30-week format. Those who successfully complete Seminars 2 and 3 not only are competent spiritual directors and people well-versed in Ignatian spirituality, but specialists who are able to give the complete Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
“The call to do more” led Bill Lipscomb and Molly Boyle to join SIF.
A federal prosecutor for over 31 years and an adjunct professor in criminal and law studies at Marquette University, Lipscomb dreams of one day sharing the Spiritual Exercises with prisoners so they might find “their connection to God.” He describes this as a way to continue his life’s work, noting, “It is a different way of working on the same problems.”
For Boyle, the opportunity to do a “deeper dive” into the Spiritual Exercises intrigued her when Fr. Jim Shea, SJ, retreat director with the Jesuit Retreat Center in Cleveland, introduced her to the project. As a chemistry teacher and coach at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, she wondered if the time was right to get involved. Her commitment to become a better teacher and coach convinced her she should not wait, so she delved into Seminar 1.
Both found Seminar 1 to be well worth their efforts. Lipscomb felt privileged to be a part of the inaugural group. Father Krupa is “a great teacher with a rich experience in communicating faith to others,” says Lipscomb. What impressed Boyle most was the level in which participants openly shared experiences, emotions, and perspectives. Of course, just as the group began to gel, COVID-19 arrived, bringing a shift from in-person classes to remote learning. To their surprise, the challenges were short-lived, that the class barely skipped a beat.
Seminar 2 has begun with its emphasis on the spiritual direction practicum. For Lipscomb and Boyle, the content already feels different, and there is a new level of excitement with the Spiritual Exercises. “Learning to give the Exercises and sharing God with others will be a true honor,” Lipscomb says.