STRATFORD—From its inception, parish outreach has been one of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality’s primary goals. Bishop Frank Caggiano, welcomed and encouraged the idea of sharing Ignatian spirituality with the people of the Bridgeport diocese, and so the Ignatian Parish Pilgrimage was initiated.
The program consists of three steps. The first step is a series of lectures on such topics as the biography of Ignatius of Loyola, the Spiritual Exercises, discernment and what Ignatian Spirituality looks like today. These four presentations are followed by instruction on various methods of prayer as well as guided experiences of them. The prayer methods presented are Lectio Divina, Composition of Place, the Examen and Prayer of Quiet.
The second step in the Pilgrimage is the organization and implementation of small faith- sharing groups. These groups meet for six weeks and are facilitated by a member of the parish. Group members use the resource Moment By Moment, an adaptation of the Ignatian Exercises, and are invited to share their weekly experiences during prayer in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
The third step is a Week of Directed Prayer, a retreat that can be made without leaving home or workplace. Participants meet on the first morning of the retreat and receive further instruction on Lectio Divina, the Examen and Prayer of Quiet. They then meet with an assigned spiritual director and set up a schedule of daily appointments according to their availability. Individual meetings occur Monday through Friday in the parish. On the last day of the retreat, members of the group gather to reflect on their experiences and to receive suggestions on how to continue deepening their relationship with their God.
The Ignatian Parish Pilgrimage has been presented at St. Mary’s in Ridgefield, St. Anthony’s of Padua in Fairfield and at St. John’s and St. Thomas More’s in Darien. The attendance has been good at all three parishes and parishioners have been enthusiastic and positive in their evaluations. At this time, we are looking at possible sites for Lent of 2018.
Some sample responses from parishioners:
- “I never realized how I could have such a personal relationship with God!”
- “The Examen has taught me how to recognize the presence of God in all things- people, events, nature- even within myself!”
- “Praying with scripture has become a whole new way of prayer for me.”
- “Talking to others about my spiritual journey has helped me to see I am not alone. We all have so much in common.”
- “It was wonderful working one on one with a spiritual director. She helped me see where God was leading me concerning a very important decision I had to make.”
- “It amazed me to see what a difference fidelity to daily prayer made in my life!”
The Center looks forward to continuing this collaboration with and service to the Diocese. For more information about the Center and its programs, visit fairfield.edu/cis.