June 17, 2015 — What’s drawing close to 500 people to Saint Louis University later this summer? A conference exploring Ignatian spirituality, one of the largest gatherings of its kind devoted to the spirituality of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, in the United States.
For nearly 20 years, the Jesuits in the region have collaborated with Saint Louis University to host the triennial Ignatian Spirituality Conference, which this year will draw speakers and attendees from the United States, Canada, Belize and Spain. The conference, which runs July 16-19, will offer keynote presentations, rich liturgies and prayer experiences and an opportunity to meet Ignatian colleagues.
“The conference is popular because so many people find the spirituality grounded in St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises to be a powerful way to know God and to relate to God throughout their lives,” said Sean Agniel, provincial assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the Central and Southern Jesuits, who is helping to organize the conference.
“People don’t just travel to St. Louis in July because they like the weather!” Agniel said. “Those attending this conference are, by and large, people who have hopelessly fallen in love with God and can identify with the powerful prayer experiences of St. Ignatius and so many Jesuits over the centuries.”
According to Agniel, conference attendees include leaders from Jesuit high schools, universities, parishes, retreat houses and other ministries who want to connect with each other through their shared experiences of the spiritual legacy of St. Ignatius. “This conference puts them in conversation with each other across apostolic sectors in a way that rarely happens.”
The 2015 conference is inspired by repeated calls from Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás for the Society of Jesus to “recover a spirit of silence.” Twenty workshops will give participants forums to discuss practical challenges in their fields of ministry, as well as topics of common interest such as the Examen, the practice of spiritual writing and the spirituality of Pope Francis.
Keynote presentations will explore the significance of silence in the history, traditions and theology of Jesuit spirituality. Jesuit Father Jose Garcia de Castro Valdez, a professor of Jesuit history and spirituality at Universidad de Comillas in Madrid, Spain, will present “Silent God in a Word-ly World: the Value of Silence in the Ignatian Tradition;” Dr. Christopher Pramuk, a professor of Theology at Xavier University, will give another keynote titled “Between the Notes: Ignatian Spirituality and the Listening Heart.”
Registration is open and housing will remain available until June 30. Details are available at www.ignatianspirit.org.