25 years bringing Ignatian spirituality to rural communities

‘This collaborative project has been an opportunity to reach out together to rural and remote areas of Australia and spread God’s word through Ignatian retreats in daily life.’

The Australian Jesuit Province last week marked the 25th anniversary of a program that has brought Ignatian spirituality to parishes around the country in partnership with Christian Life Community Australia (CLC).

Each year, Jesuits from overseas on tertianship in Australia partner with CLC members to give the First Spiritual Exercises in rural and remote parishes.

Jesuit Provincial Fr Brian McCoy was joined by other former and current tertian masters Fr Patrick O’Sullivan and Fr Steve Curtin for a celebration of the program at the Province Office on Friday 11 October.

CLC Australia President Jenny Gardner and Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ join the celebration at the Province Office.

CLC Australia President Jenny Gardner presented the Provincial with a plaque, while First Spiritual Exercises Deputy Director Frances Tilly presented gifts in recognition of the success of the program. 

‘This collaborative project has been an opportunity to reach out together to rural and remote areas of Australia and spread God’s word through Ignatian retreats in daily life’, said Ms Gardner.

The program began in 1993, when Fr Gerald Coleman SJ was tertian master and Mary Nolan was President of CLC. A trial retreat in daily life was held in Ballarat, Vic.

The following year, CLC and the Jesuit tertians collaborated to offer the three-week retreat in daily life to other country areas where there was a CLC person who could coordinate the program.

Over the years, the program was held in various rural and remote parishes, always with a Jesuit tertian and CLC or nominated coordinator. Those involved in the program are invited to continue their Ignatian journey, accompanied by CLC members, and many CLC and prayer groups have been formed over the years as a result. 

In more recent years, the First Spiritual Exercises became the basis of the retreat, with people who were experienced or trained in giving those exercises taking on the role as coordinators.

This year, 344 participants took part in the program, led by nine Jesuits and 14 CLC members.

‘I would like to thank the many CLCers who have followed up after the retreats and established groups to give people an ongoing experience of Ignatian spirituality. They have provided ongoing nourishment to people in their faith’, said Ms Gardner.

‘I know of two CLCers in South Australia this week who have travelled an hour and a half each from Adelaide to Kapunda to begin two groups in a follow-up program to this year’s retreat.’

For more about how CLC nurtures spirituality in daily life in groups across Australia, go to www.clcaustralia.org.au

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