Dear Loyola Parishioners and Visitors,
As I noted on January 29, the Magis Leadership Team planned for three half-day formation days this year to learn and develop skills in Ignatian discernment as an absolute requirement for proceeding in their work for the parish. Coincidentally, the last half-day was to focus on “discernment in the parish context”. Well, because of the Jesuits’ world- wide gathering in October 2016, the U.S. Central and Southern Province (to which we belong) is in the middle of apostolic discernment. To understand how God is leading us today, we must understand how our apostolates live out their Jesuit identity and embody the mission given us by the Congregation. GC 36 has focused on the ministry of reconciliation as the way forward for the Society and its apostolates: reconciliation with God, reconciliation with others, reconciliation with creation.
The Province desires to look to the future and explore how we can deepen the Jesuit identity of all our works and carry out the mission. While parishes exist within diocesan structures, we desire that they have a distinctively Jesuit flair. This requires both an “Examen” of the current graces and challenges lived out in our parish, as well as reflection on how together we build on the existing foundations we have to respond to new challenges. In many ways, the Magis Discovery sessions we held a few years ago and the resulting vision statements did something very similar. We don’t need to try to engage the whole parish again and cast a wide net. What we need to do this time is to reflect on statements about the Church and parish life from Pope Francis, reflect on statements about the five qualities of Jesuit parishes (Jesuit identity), reflect on excerpts from Jesuit documents and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola; prayerfully and privately respond to questions posed regarding our Jesuit parish today; note where we felt ourselves interiorly moving towards God and where we felt ourselves interiorly moving away from God, where we found ourselves freely moving and where we experienced resistance. The latter responses are what we want to pay attention to and gather at our daylong session. These will serve as the basis for discerning specific commitments to propose to the Province to enhance our Ignatian identity.
I need to decide who to invite into this process by February 22. Certainly, the priests on staff, the office manager, the Magis Leadership Team, but then do we include the leaders of all parish ministries and affiliated organizations or a few who are well-disposed to entering this process? It will involve at least one half day and one full day together as a group; but, could be three half-days between late March/early April – late April/early May. In total about a 5-week commitment. Then the Magis Leadership Team will need to discern in May where the Spirit is calling us. If you are interested in being part of the Parish Examen, let me know. The key qualities required will be: 1) already a regular pray-er; and, 2) either having had experience with Ignatian discernment prior to the Parish Examen, or desire to learn and apply Ignatian discernment in a real way to our parish life.