IGNIS Online Nourishes Despite Closed Borders  

IGNIS is the Australian Jesuit's Province wide program of formation for staff and volunteers. While COVID had a significant impact on our IGNIS schedule this year, there is one consequence of lockdown that stands to influence Province induction and formation for years to come.  

IGNIS 1 was delivered online in September for the first time, and the graces received were considerable and nourishing, for facilitators and participants alike. 

Some 47 participants from NSW and Victoria gathered virtually for two days and were guided to experience and reflect on Ignatian tradition, and what it means in daily life. All were encouraged to “go deeper” in their appreciation of our history as a Province, and the insights that underpin our ministry.  

Utilizing break out rooms on Zoom, participants engaged directly in conversation, and considered how the Ignatian worldview can be evidenced in their own organisations.  

Year Level Coordinator and teacher at Xavier College, Kew, Amanda Clarke, noted, “I left thinking…there is wonderful work being done in Jesuit ministries in NSW and Victoria.” 

The experience was unique due to the cross-ministry, cross-state mix of participants. This enabled networking of a nature that hasn’t been possible since March 2020 and was an opportunity to interact across closed borders. Participants relished the chance to share the impacts of lockdown, as well as reflections on spirituality.  

“I’m connected with a new community!” enthused Melissa D’Amico, Photography and Visual Arts Technician at Xavier, “what a delightful way to meet through our cross over of ministries.” 

Despite being delivered virtually, the program proved to be an energizing experience, providing one participant with “a renewed sense of purpose and vision” in the workplace. 

Participants offered support for the approach, saying “[it was] refreshing.” Another reflected, that “[the online program] captured and maintained my interest, as each presenter brought their own style, story and passion.” 

Facilitator Dominique Marturia, from Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview agreed. “Participants did not let the online medium deter them from full and active engagement,” she observed. “In fact, quite quickly, a community of trust was built.” 

Michael McVeigh from Jesuit Communications, also a facilitator, shared that “doing the program remotely did allow people to come together, and gave us all a glimpse of the richness and variety of our Province works.”

In the model of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm participants considered how their IGNIS 1 experience might lead to action. “I can’t wait to get back in the classroom and share this with the students!” remarked one participant. 

Others, such as Mara Lenzi, Diverse Learning Assistant at Xavier, spoke of ther desire to “continue [a] connection and conversation with God,” while Susie Adams, participant from the Province Office, expressed a desire to focus more on her own “spiritual welfare.” 

“I was impressed by the willingness of those attending to connect and eagerly engage in conversation, embracing the spirit of the course” said Sharon McLean, co-facilitator from Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview.  

Thanking organisers, Melissa D’Amico added, “You were able to produce a reflective and engaging online experience. I really enjoyed sharing with folks outside my region of Melbourne.”  

“Being part of the Ignis 1 team is a special privilege,” reflected Anne Slingo, facilitator from Xavier College. “This online experience was especially graced –?I learned so much!” she continued. In closing, Anne shared; “the depth of reflection and response felt quite intimate.?I was very grateful for the opportunity.” 

IGNIS 1 and 2 Programs are scheduled throughout the year, in person and online – if you work in an Australian Jesuit ministry please see your Ignatian Coordinator or Ministry Lead to participate. 

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