By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU



This month’s issue of Connections highlights the many ways that our colleges and universities are helping their faculty, staff and administrators to become leaders in the Ignatian tradition. Many of these new programs at our schools were founded by faculty who were inspired by their experiences in the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP), which is a program sponsored by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU). You will learn more about ICP and AJCU’s second leadership program, the Jesuit Leadership Seminar, in this issue.

It’s been a very busy winter here at AJCU, and you may have noticed that we jumped from January to March for Connections! February began with our annual winter board meeting in Washington, D.C. followed by a week of meetings sponsored by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Later, our president, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., traveled to Rome for a week of meetings with the international higher education secretariat of the Society of Jesus. Upon his return, he issued an open letter to President Trump and members of Congress on the need for gun control. The letter is available to view on our homepage and on YouTube.

Throughout the month, we worked closely with the media center at Fairfield University to put the finishing touches on our new Jesuit Educated video, which is now available on YouTube. We also launched a new microsite featuring information on all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States: The video and website are currently being shown to high school students and their parents during the many Jesuit Excellence Tour (JET) events taking place across the country this spring. We hope that the video will reach and inspire the next generation of Jesuit educated students on our campuses!

We resume the regular schedule for Connections this month, and are excited to share the upcoming April and May issues with you later this spring. In April, we will highlight some of the beautiful chapels and sacred spaces on our campuses; in May, we will feature innovative ways that our schools are encouraging philanthropy from all generations of donors. We hope you enjoy these next few issues, and that you have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU



Where are we on DACA?
The higher education community has long championed the safety and security for the nation’s 780,000 undocumented individuals known as Dreamers. We support passing the Dream Act and securing an extension to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was scheduled to expire on March 5. But the February 14 tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL shifted focus from DACA to gun control on Capitol Hill.

At the moment, the fate of the DACA program remains uncertain. On February 26, the Supreme Court halted President Trump’s appeal of an appellate judge’s ruling that the Federal government must keep DACA in place. For now, DACA recipients do not have to worry about deportation. While this does not resolve the issue, it is a limited reprieve.

Efforts to save DACA continue behind the scenes. As recently as March 14, President Trump said that he would accept a three-year extension of DACA for current recipients if it was linked to funding for the border wall in the pending FY18 Omnibus appropriations bill. It remains to be seen whether or not a resolution for DACA will emerge during this process.

AJCU will continue to work with the higher education community to advocate for the extension of DACA. Passing the Dream Act as permanent policy is preferable but given the resistance from the majority of Congress, extending the DACA program on a temporary basis seems more likely.

Appropriations process inches closer to the March 23 CR deadline
The current Continuing Resolution (CR) signed into law in December 2017 extends FY 2018 funding for the Federal government until March 23. This deadline is fast approaching and there is no desire to consider another CR as a short-term fix. According to recent reports, the congressional appropriations committees agreed to overall funding levels, with the exception of a few programs within the Labor, Health & Human Services (H&HS) and Education appropriations bill. Ten policy riders attached to this bill remain undecided as well.

The temporary budget agreement in February resolved funding levels for the defense and non-defense discretionary sides of the budget: Defense received $80 billion in addition to its current $549 billion budget while the non-defense discretionary side received $63 billion in addition to its current $516 billion budget.

This FY 2018 Omnibus appropriations bill is critical for higher education because Federal student aid programs receive funding through the Labor, H&HS and Education bill. We hope that the Pell grant maximum award will increase by $100 from $5,920 to $6,020. We are not certain whether the campus-based aid programs will remain funded. Both the House and Senate extended current funding of $773 million for the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program, which provides funding for the neediest of students. The Federal Work Study program also received level funding in the House and Senate bills.

The Perkins loan program was not reauthorized by Congress and expired in September 2017. Institutions are now in the process of returning Perkins loans to the Federal government. The FY18 Omnibus appropriations bill is expected to be released this week; we will provide you with updates on final figures as soon they are made available.

Dr. Joseph DeFeo (center, in blue) on a recent immersion trip for the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP) (Photo courtesy of Dr. Joseph DeFeo)



Michael Wieczorek, Executive Assistant to the President of AJCU, recently interviewed Dr. Joseph DeFeo, Executive Director of the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP), and Dr. Jeanne Lord, Director of the Jesuit Leadership Seminar, who explained how their respective programs form Ignatian leaders on Jesuit campuses. The following interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Dr. Joseph DeFeo, Executive Director of the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP)

MW: How did the idea for the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP) come about?
JD: It started before I came on board, but there was a group of schools in the Heartland Delta Region* that first sponsored it. There was an awareness about the significant decrease in the number of Jesuits at our schools, and so the question was raised: how do we foster the development of our Jesuit and Catholic charism, pedagogy and spirituality among our institutional leaders? A group of Jesuit Provincials, priests and lay people developed the idea of a formation program, and started in the Midwest with 20-30 people as a test group. By year six, it became a national program under the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU).

How did you become involved with ICP? What drew you to serve as Executive Director?
Much of my background has been working in Jesuit ministries such as Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Jesuit secondary and higher education. I had not heard of ICP, but I contacted them to start a dialogue with the founding executive director. He then invited me to get involved and participate in portions of the program. I then became the online coordinator and later, the director. It’s been a great fit because my interest and background is in Jesuit education, Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy, and building intentional communities. I also serve as a spiritual director and supervisor of directors.

What do you hope for participants to take away from the program?
I hope that they have learned a lot about the Ignatian charism and that they are able to find ways to adapt it to particular circumstances. I also hope that through personal engagement and personal growth, they become better people and grow as humans in some way. A larger goal or hope is that this network of our twenty-eight schools becomes an active community that can use its resources for the betterment of higher education nationally. There is an untapped potential here that is starting to build, and I’m excited to see how that will play out.

How does ICP differ from the Jesuit Leadership Seminar (JLS)? What differences exist in terms of approach, goals, etc.?
JLS is an initial step to learning about Jesuit higher education and how it works. It’s a week-long program that provides an introduction to Jesuit higher education, its history, mission and charism. ICP is interested in forming a community of participants across the network, and covers a vaster array of pieces related to mission. For example, why are they experiencing a silent retreat? It’s for them to grow in their faith as well as affect what they do on their campus. ICP also explores social justice issues through an immersion experience. So, it’s a more intense program. It is really the intensity and the wholistic approach that make it formational. Because of the variety of components and experiences, along with the length of time one is engaged, it accomplishes more than just one workshop or conference can.

Can you share a story about the impact that the program has had on one of the participants? Or, more broadly, at a Jesuit institution or in Jesuit higher education?
I just got a thank you note from a participant, who said, “I learned a ton, but more than that, I grew soulfully. I felt I developed some tools of spirit to guide me in decision-making.” That’s what we hope for. On a larger scale, ICP creates a community that our association has in name, but it makes it a more living, breathing, active community and network. It allows people to gain a sense of Jesuit higher education as a network in relationship to the higher education academy.

In a time of tight budgets and assorted challenges for higher education, why is it important to prioritize a program like ICP?
There is an expression that says, “no money, no mission.” Meaning you have to balance the budget before you can advance the mission. I would say, “no mission, no money.” For our institutions to be the best at what we have to offer, mission needs to be at the forefront. Jesuits took on ministries that no one else could. We don’t need to be in higher education unless we have something special to offer, and that’s our mission. So, we need to prioritize developing people and programs that emphasize that.

It’s also important for making ourselves viable in the marketplace. Ignatian pedagogy in the 21st century remains a cutting edge in higher education, teaching and learning strategy, that encourages excellence in and out of the classroom. There are plenty of good schools out there. So, why are we here if others can do it? It’s because we have something else to offer, something that our students and our world, need.

How are ICP participants encouraged to maintain the spirit of the program after completion? 
We encourage them to get involved on their campus in areas where mission is important, to connect with their local mission officers, and to gather with other ICP alumni on their campus a few times a year to deepen their learning and discuss opportunities for mission leadership. The ICP office also invites alumni to utilize the ICP directory to review mission projects for helpful suggestions, and to gather at our ICP alumni Summer Workshop. This year’s workshop will be held on August 7-8 in Chicago, where the theme will be “Integrating ICP.” Finally, we challenge our alumni to be engaged with the network, to volunteer for new faculty orientation, mission days, or maybe even serve on a sub committee for their school’s board of trustees.

Dr. Jeanne Lord with AJCU President Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. (left) at Loyola University Chicago during the 2017 Jesuit Leadership Seminar (Photo courtesy of Dr. Jeanne Lord)



Dr. Jeanne Lord, Director of the Jesuit Leadership Seminar (JLS)

MW: How did the idea for JLS come about? 
JL: The Seminar started about fifteen years ago as the creation of the AJCU presidents, who recognized the need for a formation program for lay leaders at Jesuit colleges and universities. It was first led by Sr. Maureen Fay, OP, the former president of the University of Detroit Mercy. The presidents realized that engagement with Jesuit mission and identity should extend beyond the Jesuits and that formed lay leaders are key to the future of Jesuit education.

How did you become involved with JLS? What drew you to serve as Director?
AJCU’s president, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., invited me to get involved with the Seminar in 2014. I’ll admit that I was a little reluctant initially, but after our first meeting at a coffee shop across the street from the AJCU office, I never looked back.

What do you hope for participants to take away from the program?
I hope participants leave the Seminar with a few take-aways: a foundational knowledge of Ignatian history, pedagogy and spirituality, and how to integrate those into the concrete work of faculty and administrators; closer relationships with colleagues across the AJCU network (these relationships are life-giving and critical to the success of our work); and a sense of excitement, renewal and heightened commitment to our shared mission. The importance today of the values we transmit to our students – especially the call to be men and women for others – has never been more important.

Can you share a story about the impact that the Seminar has had on one of the participants? Or more broadly, at a Jesuit institution or in Jesuit higher education?
I have a number of good stories, so it’s hard to think of just one. But, here’s an example. We have tried to bring young Jesuits and Jesuits in formation into the Seminar whenever possible. One year, there was a gathering of Jesuits in formation at Loyola University Chicago. And so, we had morning liturgy together with them every day. They also joined us for a panel discussion and a communal dinner, where we told everyone to mix up their groups and sit with each other. You could just hear the connections being made. It was a dinner meant to be one hour, but ended up lasting for three hours. I have heard people relay stories of relationships that started at that dinner and have continued years later – such deep conversations. We are companions, not just colleagues. That memory stays with me.

In a time of tight budgets and many challenges for higher education, why is it important to prioritize a program like JLS?
I’m acutely aware of the competing demands on all of our schools, so this is something I think about a lot. Fortunately, we have been able to maintain a constant registration fee for as long as I can remember. I think the formation programs that the AJCU sponsors have never been more important, particularly as we see lay leadership increasing and our Jesuit “brand” is become more and more valuable in distinguishing our institutions in a competitive higher education landscape. We are very grateful for the support of the presidents as we continue this work.

For more information on the Ignatian Colleagues Program, please visit To learn more about this year’s Jesuit Leadership Seminar (June 4-8, 2018 at Loyola University Chicago), please visit

By Rita Buettner and Stephanie Weaver, Office of Marketing and Communications, Loyola University Maryland

(L-R): Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland, Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., special assistant to the president for mission integration & Rev. Jack Dennis, S.J., Loyola Trustee, celebrated Mass at the Vat…    

(L-R): Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland, Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., special assistant to the president for mission integration & Rev. Jack Dennis, S.J., Loyola Trustee, celebrated Mass at the Vatican on the 30th anniversary of their ordinations in June 2016 (photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland)



As the new strategic plan for Loyola University Maryland was entering its final stages in June 2016, members of Loyola’s Board of Trustees joined Loyola’s president, Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., and members of his cabinet for a pilgrimage through Spain and Italy.

The eight-day pilgrimage led the participants from Bilbao, Spain, to Rome, Italy. They first stopped at the castle where St. Ignatius of Loyola lived with his family before continuing on to Xavier, home of St. Francis Xavier, where they had the opportunity to see religious articles belonging to him that are not typically on display to the public.

They also visited Montserrat and Manresa. Montserrat is the town where, after his conversion, Ignatius prayed and committed himself to Christ, leaving behind his sword at the statue of the Blessed Mother. He pledged to spend the next year in penance and prayer and continued on to Manresa, where he encountered the Holy Spirit and wrote what is known today as The Spiritual Exercises. Before the pilgrimage concluded in Rome, the participants attended a public audience with Pope Francis.

The three Jesuits on the trip—Fr. Linnane, Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., special assistant to the president for mission integration, and Rev. Jack Dennis, S.J., Loyola Trustee and president of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis—happened to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of their ordinations. While in Rome, they concelebrated Mass at an altar in the Vatican.

“This was not merely a retreat, or a time only for prayer and spiritual growth. It was an unparalleled experience to consider what matters most to me and to this university we are shepherding as committed, dedicated leaders,” said Fr. Linnane. “I was struck by the numerous opportunities the trip offered for reflection on the history of the Jesuits and their role in education.

“As you immerse yourself in history and culture and share experiences with your fellow travelers, something powerful happens. You not only engage in your own reflection and self-discovery, but you bond as a group, and you become rejuvenated, centered and focused in a new way on the origin of the Jesuit mission that is at the heart of the work we do here at Loyola,” he explained. “You are also able to understand the global perspective of the Jesuit mission and the roots of this whole endeavor.”

St. Ignatius used this bowl to collect money for the Society of Jesus (photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland)    

St. Ignatius used this bowl to collect money for the Society of Jesus (photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland)



Guided by Ignatius
From the earliest conversations about the next strategic plan for Loyola, one theme rose to the surface: The Loyola community was craving deeper engagement with the University’s mission. All members of the community—including Loyola’s leaders—were seeking greater purpose, inspiration and direction. The idea for the pilgrimage reflected that interest, offering a journey of exploration that mirrored and enhanced the journey of self-discovery that would shape the strategic plan for the future of Loyola University Maryland.

As the plan evolved during 24 months of examination, observation and reflection, the discussions focused on how Loyola was distinctive—and has the potential to be distinctive in the future. The charge was to bring the vision to life: Loyola University Maryland, anchored in Baltimore, will be a leading national liberal arts university in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.
It was a significant task, particularly because the creation of the plan was embraced in a Jesuit way, reflecting on what Loyola University Maryland was, and discerning what it could and should be in the future. Ultimately, more than 300 members of the Loyola community lent their voices to the plan, within 15 work groups, raising the bar for collaboration in a strategic planning process for the University.

“It’s exciting the way the process worked, and how so many people were engaged from all areas of the University,” said Fr. Linnane. “From the beginning, there was an interest in the Jesuit, Catholic mission of Loyola University Maryland and how that might be more effectively experienced by our students and all members of the community.”

During their pilgrimage, the group visited the birthplace of St. Francis Xavier (photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland)    

During their pilgrimage, the group visited the birthplace of St. Francis Xavier (photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland)



The Birth of a Plan
By taking a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Ignatius, Loyola University Maryland leaders were able to return to Loyola’s Evergreen campus with a renewed focus on the mission of the founder of the Jesuits. That mission and heritage have been infused into Loyola’s plan, which embraces four pillars: Ignatian Citizenship, Ignatian Educational Innovation, Ignatian Engagement, and Ignatian Vitality and Sustainability. Loyola is implementing the plan, The Ignatian Compass: Guiding Loyola University Maryland to Ever Greater Excellence, from 2017-22.

The Ignatian Compass looks to the teachings and philosophy of St. Ignatius to prepare Loyola to address critical challenges that are now facing higher education in the United States. The strategic plan calls upon all members of the community to confront these challenges together and to be more nimble and more flexible—reflecting the nimbleness of Ignatius himself—to deliver upon educational goals with ever greater excellence.

“Today’s universities recognize that to stay the same is to fall behind. The Ignatian Compass offers Loyola University Maryland the opportunity to look back at the mission that St. Ignatius embraced even before he formed the Society of Jesus, and consider how we can enhance the education and experience we are offering our students,” said Fr. Linnane. “Together, we want to push the envelope to make sure our students are getting the very best, distinctive educational experience that forms them intellectually and spiritually and personally—and that they graduate from Loyola prepared for all that the future holds.”

By David J. Dzurec III, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of the History Department, The University of Scranton

David J. Dzurec III, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of the University of Scranton)    

David J. Dzurec III, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of the University of Scranton)



It seems to me that the issue of “hiring for mission” is a neuralgic one at Jesuit colleges and universities. As the number of Jesuits on our campuses continues to decrease, the onus of passing on the foundational principles of Jesuit education is increasingly incumbent on the intentional work of dedicated administrators, faculty and staff. Given this current reality, how do we engage those we hire and form them in the great educational tradition that has been entrusted to us?

Even as my teaching career continued to flourish, I knew I needed to gain a deeper understanding of our foundational Ignatian principles if I was going to be truly effective in helping my students answer the most profound questions about our world and their lives. I needed a different modo de proceder or “way of proceeding” if I hoped to effectively pass on to my students the rich Jesuit educational tradition that was given to me.

My own understanding of Ignatian principles and ideals has been greatly enhanced through my formation in the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP). The ICP is a “national program of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) designed to educate and form administrators and faculty more deeply in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition of higher education. The goal of [the] program is to provide a solid intellectual foundation as well as opportunities for participants to personally experience and appropriate their significance so they may better articulate, adapt, and advance the Jesuit and Catholic mission of their campuses.”

As I began my ICP journey, I had some practical concerns about the eighteen-month time commitment and the travel required of all participants. What inspires me about ICP is that, while there have been logistical challenges (everything from making sure to thank my wife for agreeing to parent solo for some of my extended trips to figuring out how to cover a few classes), those challenges pale in comparison to the depth of understanding the program has brought to my sense of what it means to be a part of the Catholic and Jesuit education tradition. 

A number of my ICP experiences have shaped my understanding of Jesuit education as well as the way I approach my specific academic discipline in the classroom. My experience in the ICP Nicaragua Immersion Project is a good case in point. Meeting with faculty and staff at the Universidad Centroamericana de Nicaragua (UCA) helped me to gain a new understanding and appreciation about what it means to be a part of the global network of Jesuit colleges and universities. In particular, our conversation with Rev. Jose Idiáquez, S.J. the University’s rector, demonstrated the power of the Jesuit model of higher education to be a constant source of support in challenging circumstances. Simply put, what inspires me about ICP is the opportunity to be reminded that Jesuit higher education is a personal gift to me and foundational to the way I want to engage my students and colleagues back on campus at the University of Scranton.

Capstone: Bringing the Gift Home
Every participant in ICP is asked to complete a Capstone Project back on their campus that “provides an opportunity for colleagues to integrate what they have learned in the program and apply it to their work as responsible co-workers and companions in mission.” As I discerned my Capstone Project, I was inspired by the example of my cohort colleagues to develop a deeper understanding of the Catholic and Jesuit ideals that are at the heart of our common educational mission. I also knew that I wanted to make my Capstone Project something that would be transformational to my colleagues at Scranton.

As I discerned my modo de proceder, I came to realize the importance of allowing myself to be formed in the Ignatian educational tradition. As my discernment continued, I began to meditate on my own experience as a first-year faculty member and how my understanding of Ignatian educational principles was sorely underdeveloped at the time. In the end, it seemed to me that there could be real value in offering new faculty a similar opportunity to the one I was experiencing in ICP so that they would have a deeper understanding of these foundational principles to encourage and buoy their research and teaching. With this in mind, I approached my colleagues in Scranton’s Mission Office with the idea of putting together a program that would form first-year faculty members in the foundational principles of Jesuit education.

The First-Year Faculty Seminar is a year-long program that is intended to help new faculty understand all of the opportunities that are available to them at the University of Scranton, and to help them develop a deeper understanding of how those opportunities fit into the model of Catholic and Jesuit education.

Some of the items addressed in our monthly meetings include:

I am convinced that Jesuit educational principles can help people understand the world, and themselves, better. For me, the opportunity to teach at a Catholic and Jesuit university has enriched my life personally and professionally. Personally, I’ve become more profoundly aware of God’s spirit laboring in my daily life and in the life of the University of Scranton. Professionally, I’ve learned how to incorporate Ignatian educational principles into my coursework so that the students I teach can be made aware of the foundational properties that give life to all of our Jesuit colleges and universities.

Simply put, I want to help my new colleagues on campus find their own modo de proceder as they begin their careers here at the University of Scranton. May they be inspired, just as I have been, by the animating and ancient spirit of our Ignatian educational tradition.

By James P. McCartin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology, Fordham University

Statue of St. Ignatius Loyola on Fordham's Lincoln Center campus (photo courtesy of Fordham University)    

Statue of St. Ignatius Loyola on Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus (photo courtesy of Fordham University)



How do we affirm our foundational mission while responding to fast changing needs and expectations in the world of higher education? Leaders at Jesuit colleges and universities often raise this question when considering how to educate and form students. 

But it is critical that we ask the same question in thinking about how we cultivate faculty and staff. If we want our institutions to be both grounded in mission and responsive to new circumstances, we must support faculty and staff—people who, unlike our students, often remain on our campuses for decades—so that, over the long haul, they are equipped to be both substantively engaged with mission and agile in their response to change.

James P. McCartin, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Fordham University)    

James P. McCartin, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Fordham University)



For the past several years, I have led the yearlong New Faculty Seminar on Mission in which new faculty at Fordham University learn about our Jesuit and Catholic mission and explore ways in which they can engage this in their work as researchers, teachers and mentors. At first, I feared that my new colleagues—talented people from a full range of academic disciplines, most with no experience of Jesuit or Catholic higher education—would look upon our meetings as an obligation they’d resent, and upon me as someone trying to force sectarian values into their research and teaching. But I soon realized that, while not everyone approached the seminar enthusiastically, the majority experienced our meetings as bright spots in their first year at Fordham.

Two things have particularly contributed to making these seminars worthwhile for participants. First, I have recognized that there is an acute hunger for community among my colleagues, and any opportunity to cultivate meaningful connections across departments and schools, particularly in the context of conversations around shared interests, helps to build and sustain a vital sense of community. Such a community, I have found, provides an invaluable context in which colleagues can comfortably raise questions and offer perspectives about mission—including critical questions and perspectives—and, in doing so, can help to make mission a more significant variable in their work. I have learned that a strong sense of community can make all the difference.

Second, if these seminars have had a positive impact, it is also significantly because, in our discussions, we persistently approach mission as something that is both invitational and aspirational. It is invitational in that it highlights opportunities through which individuals can freely choose to engage with mission in ways they sense might expand and enhance their work.

Some are particularly excited about the possibility that their research and teaching might benefit from a focus on issues of justice. For example, faculty and staff at Fordham have been highlighting our mission in critical conversations about enhancing diversity, and how we might more effectively serve first-generation college students.

Others find special resonance in cura personalis and see in this principle the promise of deepening the quality of their mentoring. Still others are intrigued by the latitude they have to engage in conversations about spiritual values, conversations they would not have broached at secular institutions where they did their graduate work. Far from being sectarian and restrictive, mission, when understood as invitational, can be experienced as liberating and qualitatively transformative in a person’s work.

Mission is aspirational in that it inevitably suggests that our work is incomplete: thinking and talking about mission ultimately encourages us to measure ourselves against our espoused values and, hopefully, prompts us to be honest about our successes and failures. It can thus highlight ways in which we might be better, both as individuals and as institutions. It can also help us identify new horizons and new boundaries and determine how we might effectively respond to new needs and changed circumstances.

Ultimately, it is the aspirational quality of mission that may be most crucial as we think about preparing faculty and staff to respond creatively to challenges in the future. Higher education will almost surely continue to change at a rapid pace in the years and decades ahead. But my experience of working with new colleagues suggests that, if our faculty and staff are well-informed and if they possess the tools to engage substantively with mission, this aspirational quality will be invaluable in helping ensure that Jesuit higher education maintains its distinctive values even as it responds clearly and effectively to new challenges.

James P. McCartin, Ph.D., is an associate professor of theology and former director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture. He is a recent graduate of the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP).

By Timothy Linn, Public Relations Specialist, Rockhurst University

Photo of St. Ignatius Loyola Statue courtesy of Rockhurst University    

Photo of St. Ignatius Loyola Statue courtesy of Rockhurst University



It has been more than 470 years since the formation of the Society of Jesus and its mission to educate the world.

Few would doubt that the mission continues to have an impact. But a lot has changed in the years since St. Ignatius of Loyola founded the order that would become a driving force for global education, and Jesuit educators are continuously challenged to re-contextualize the core values for new generations and new perspectives.

Three years ago, John Kerrigan, Ph.D., associate professor of English at Rockhurst University, began inviting faculty and staff to sit down and talk about the ways that the Jesuit philosophy informs their every-day life at the University, and how they can bring that philosophy into their work.

The idea was simple: Kerrigan would provide copies of A Jesuit Education Reader, edited by Rev. George W. Traub, S.J., and each semester invite those on campus to the table to share what they learned from selected readings. It stemmed from his experience in the Ignatian Colleagues Program (ICP), an 18-month immersion program in Ignatian values offered by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) to faculty and administrators. Kerrigan said, “At the end of that program, the last six months or so, I was charged with coming up with a way of bringing some of the concepts that I had learned back to the University.”

One particular article in the Reader had stuck with him: “Spiritualties of — Not at — the University,” by John B. Bennett and Elizabeth A. Dreyer. Kerrigan said that its central concern with hospitality as a foundational virtue can “move its readers toward being open to learning and growing through dialogue. The Reader as a whole was just a great anchor for getting together whoever would be willing among the faculty and staff.”

Kerrigan drew on the expertise of other faculty and administration alumni from ICP, who helped pick meaningful passages from the Reader for the group. He also drew some lessons from his own experience teaching, including three important concepts — engagement, alignment and imagination.

“All three of those things have to be working for a project like this to really be successful,” he said. “When we’re open to engaging together through these discussions, part of what happens is that we think about the ways our values align with those of the mission, and [then] we may generate new images of our work and even of the University.”

Photo of A Jesuit Education Reader Courtesy of Rockhurst University    

Photo of A Jesuit Education Reader Courtesy of Rockhurst University



Kerrigan applied for and received an Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) grant to fund the purchase of copies of the Reader for faculty, and the University’s Office of Mission and Ministry provided copies for staff. According to Kerrigan, one of the most difficult things was waiting to see if anyone would attend the first discussion in 2015. As it turns out, there was significant interest among staff and faculty. “Initially, we had such a response that we couldn’t even accommodate everyone in a single room,” he said. “Ellen (Spake, Ph.D., assistant to the president for mission and ministry) and I were just thrilled, and surprised. I think it says a lot to have a program like this that is successful even as it is optional.”

Mary Cary, a secretary in the College of Health and Human Services, was in that first session, and has made the effort to attend every one since. She said, “To read a book like that and discuss the whole thing can be a little overwhelming. I think it’s awesome to be able to take it piece by piece and discuss it as a campus.”

As someone who had already graduated from Rockhurst and loved the experience in the classroom discussing texts and how they related to every-day issues, Cary felt that the Reader group gave her a similar feeling, and a similar scope. She said, “The articles we read are very thoughtfully chosen for where we’re at in a given year, and by that I mean the University, the nation, the world.”

Spake noted that there is no shortage of formation opportunities for both faculty and staff who wish to deepen their understanding of Ignatian principles. But inviting both to the same table is unique, and that might be part of the appeal for many of those who come to the Reader discussions.

Spake said, “I think it serves a variety of needs, but one of the biggest ones is building that sense of community,” which in itself is a Jesuit concept. “This is a program for everybody at the University, and I think that’s really important. It gives the discussions a unique character.”

The articles in the Reader range from historical overviews on how the Jesuits became so associated with education, to explorations of the role that faith plays at Catholic institutions today, to ruminations on the challenges faced by Jesuit institutions of higher education.

Talking about those topics in such a large group yields different perspectives, and frequently leads Cary to look at her own work in a new light. “To bring it into our everyday work is just invaluable,” she said. “Any opportunity we have to talk about our mission is important, because I think we can perform our jobs better in addition to making us more of a community. It sort of brings the mission to life because we’re discussing it and trying to grow in it together.”

Spake sees the Reader discussion group as a “mission multiplier” for how effectively it immerses those who participate in the Jesuit core values and mission of Rockhurst. Kerrigan, too, sees the ripple effects that even a little simple conversation can have in helping faculty and staff alike, whether they’re teaching a course, administering student activities, or even filing paperwork.

“The way that we help faculty and staff really understand the mission is to help them understand the root of our traditions — the root of Ignatian spirituality is the way that it can, if we’re open, go to work on us as individuals,” he said. “It meets you where you are and transforms you in the best way .”

By David B. Feldman, with Deborah Lohse, Santa Clara University

David B. Feldman (Photo courtesy of SanTa Clara University)    

David B. Feldman (Photo courtesy of SanTa Clara University)



In today’s world, we are given many messages that our spiritual and professional lives should be kept separate — preferably with a thick wall between them. Luckily for Santa Clara University, in 2002, a beloved professor of business organization saw a need and an opportunity to help faculty scale this wall by tapping into the rich resources of the University’s Ignatian roots.

The result was the Ignatian Faculty Forum (IFF), which is sponsored by the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University. 

The late André Delbecq began IFF sixteen years ago, by inviting faculty to a program that combines the best available techniques from business and organizational psychology with principles of Ignatian spirituality. Small groups of ten, plus two faculty facilitators (of which I am one), meet for one four-hour session per month for an academic year. The confidential and intimate program has helped more than twenty-five percent of our full-time faculty develop themselves professionally, personally and spiritually. 

And you don’t have to take my word for it. In a recent survey of IFF participants, eighty-five percent reported experiencing an increased sense of community among their University colleagues. Seventy-four percent reported that IFF assisted them in integrating spiritual practices into their lives. Eighty-four percent reported increased commitment to cura personalis in their relations with colleagues. And, seventy-nine percent said that IFF had a strong impact on their current roles and their willingness to step up to leadership roles within the university. In short: it’s working. 

Origins of IFF
Professor Delbecq was an acclaimed pioneer in his field. He conceived the idea for IFF while working with Catholic healthcare systems that were consolidating. He helped them to address questions like ‘What makes us Catholic? What makes us different? And how can we preserve our values in the context of a world that is constantly pushing us to make more money?’ 

He believed very strongly that not only could the individuals in these organizations be made stronger, happier, and more productive by connecting with their deepest spiritual convictions and motivations, but that the organizations could benefit as well. He also saw this as a need at Catholic and Jesuit universities like Santa Clara. 

Meeting Structure
The IFF’s structure is key to its success, inviting participants to engage the mind, heart and spirit in equal measures. IFF monthly meetings are divided roughly in half: The first half begins with lighting the ‘the candle of confidentiality,’ signaling the emotional safety of the meeting environment. After reading through and briefly meditating on a few quotes drawn from the Ignatian spiritual tradition, we engage in brief check-ins, with each participant spending a couple of minutes catching up the rest of the group on what has transpired in his or her professional and spiritual lives during the past month.

The majority of the first half of the meeting is then spent discussing readings that encourage reflection on aspects of Ignatian spirituality. Among our many readings, participants discuss selections from The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by Rev. James Martin, S.J., as well as a lecture by Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, titled, “The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Education.” We also reflect on readings about the particular mission of Santa Clara written by Rev. Paul Crowley, S.J., Rev. Mark Ravizza, S.J. and Professor Tracey Kahan, among others. 

While we always have readings that are strictly Ignatian, we also try to incorporate content that allows us to widen the message to faculty members who are not Catholic. Some are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or of other faiths; some are agnostic or atheist. It is important for us to honor the many facets of diversity among participants. One important aspect of IFF is that it doesn’t ask people to be anything other than who they are, but rather to reflect on how the Ignatian tradition speaks to their unique lives.

Each month we cover a different theme: finding God in all things, Ignatian indifference, and Ignatian discernment, to name a few. Participants thus develop their sense of what Ignatian spirituality is in a gradual fashion. Faculty are encouraged not only to honor their minds but also their hearts and souls in the discussion. IFF facilitators encourage participants to ask themselves questions such as, “How does this connect with my life?” and “How do I see myself in this?” 

After a simple meal of soup, bread and fruit, faculty are invited to write on a large poster board any current challenges or concerns in their lives that they might value speaking about with the group. The second half of the meeting is then spent discussing these challenges, which the other participants and IFF facilitators help them to think through in a distinctly Ignatian way.

Faculty members evolve over the course of the year. Often starting ‘in their heads,’ they might ask, “Tell me the steps in Ignatian spirituality?” But Ignatian spirituality teaches one to connect one’s head with one’s heart and one’s soul and one’s spirit. Over time, participants often engage more fully with the discernment process, encountering the movements of spirit within, and helping others to do the same. They quickly realize that this is not an Ignatian book club.

Additional Leadership Programs
Many more Ignatian leadership opportunities are offered by Santa Clara:

As a devout person of Jewish faith, I have found it very rewarding to participate in this special program, which works hard to bring people together, to give them a sense of what it means to work at a Jesuit institution, and to allow all of us to truly experience our shared values.

David B. Feldman is chair of Santa Clara University’s Department of Counseling Psychology and the J. Thomas and Kathleen L. McCarthy Professor of Counseling Psychology. He is the coordinator and one of four faculty facilitators of the Ignatian Faculty Forum. He can be reached at Deborah Lohse is assistant director of media and internal communications at Santa Clara.

By Chris Lowney, Author of Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church

 Map of route for Ignatian Camino in Spain (courtesy of Chris Lowney)

Map of route for Ignatian Camino in Spain (courtesy of Chris Lowney)

           Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.

Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.

           Chris Lowney (left) and participants on a recent Ignatian camino (photo by Fordham University student)

Chris Lowney (left) and participants on a recent Ignatian camino (photo by Fordham University student)

           Fordham University students on a recent Ignatian Camino trek (courtesy of Chris Lowney)

Fordham University students on a recent Ignatian Camino trek (courtesy of Chris Lowney)

           Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.

Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.

           Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.

Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.

                   Map of route for Ignatian Camino in Spain (courtesy of Chris Lowney)  Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.  Chris Lowney (left) and participants on a recent Ignatian camino (photo by Fordham University student)  Fordham University students on a recent Ignatian Camino trek (courtesy of Chris Lowney)  Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.  Photo by Fordham University students during a recent Ignatian Camino trek.  

One student called it, “easily the best academic experience I’ve ever taken part in.” Another said that the experience “had a profound impact on me from a leadership perspective.” 

This effusive praise came from Jesuit university students who were describing their experiences on the Ignatian Camino, a pilgrimage / trekking route that traces St. Ignatius Loyola’s famous journey through Spain in 1521, after his battle injury convalescence and conversion, from Loyola to Montserrat and Manresa.

Author Chris Lowney    

Author Chris Lowney



The Ignatian Camino, sponsored by the Jesuits of Spain, was inaugurated in 2012, after project work by a team led by Rev. Josep Luis Iriberri, S.J. with Chris Lowney. Since then, its rapid progress has surpassed the most optimistic projections. The 422-hundred mile path is fully waymarked, has been subject of various guides and memoirs in at least four languages, and is now trekked annually by many hundreds of pilgrims, whether as individual trekkers or in groups (think of the Ignatian route as analogous to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, though minus the hoopla and trendiness!).

Numerous Jesuit institutions have already organized walking pilgrimages or courses along the Ignatian Camino, including Fordham University, the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Regis University, Campion Jesuit Spirituality Center in Melbourne and others. These experiences have been rich and remarkably varied in nature: some have lasted a week, others as long as a month. There have been for-credit and co-curricular offerings, and immersion experiences sponsored by campus ministry, business schools or offices of mission and identity.

A walking trek is challenging, but the rewards are more than worth it. As one pilgrim put it: “No amount of information, data or reading can substitute for the sheer experience of following in Ignatius’s footsteps….I actually felt [like] I was walking with Ignatius, seeing the sights and views he saw along the same route.”

The importance of Ignatius’s trek cannot be overstated. The Spiritual Exercises, the cornerstone of Jesuit spirituality, were largely conceived by Ignatius at the end of his trek. As the 500th anniversary of Ignatius’s history-changing pilgrimage draws closer (2021), we invite Jesuit colleges and universities to expand their take-up of this uniquely powerful Ignatian resource. 

Offerings on the route could take any number of formats: retreats; team building, mission and identity experiences; or for-credit courses in history or spirituality. Trips could be targeted to students, alumni, or faculty and staff. 

An experienced group of “Ignatian Camino veterans” stand ready to coach any interested Jesuit university personnel through the logistics of mounting a trip. Those who wish to test the waters in advance of mounting a trip are invited to join an already-scheduled trek or participate in a “train the trainers” trek.

Rev. Josep Luis Iriberri, S.J., who has led more than fifteen pilgrimages along the route, is planning a visit to the United States in 2018 and would be happy to include your institution on his itinerary. Please write to him at to get in touch. Chris Lowney is also available as a resource. He has conducted MBA-level leadership course treks along the route. He can be reached at We welcome any reactions or questions and stand ready to support you on your own journey along the Camino!

To learn more about the Camino, please visit or find us on Facebook under the group, “Friends of the Ignatian Camino.”