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Faculty Discusses Social Justice Issues and Literature Through Ignatian Conversations

The Ignatian Conversations, facilitated by Co-Directors of Adult Spirituality Dr. Ann Holmquist, the Rev. Wayne Negrete, S.J. and the Rev. Jerry Hudson, S.J., is a year-long program that assembles faculty, staff, alumni and parents to reflect on various literary texts in order to foster spiritual growth every month.

The reflections take place in Ruppert Hall on the second Wednesday of every month. Over the past seven years, the group has maintained consistent membership and has welcomed a large portion of the Loyola community.

In previous years the program has read various pieces including “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, A Spirituality for Real Life and Jesus: A Pilgrimage” by Father James Martin and “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson.
Overseeing the program for over seven years, Holmquist said, “The Ignatian Conversations began in 2010 as a result of my first Jesuit partner in the Office for Adult Spirituality, Fr. Peter Filice, and I thinking together and discussing options for how to bring adults in the community together to deepen conversations around our Ignatian, Jesuit and Catholic identity.”

Holmquist said, “In the Jesuit Constitutions, Ignatius ranks conversation equal to preaching, teaching or any other ministry. Ignatius is not the only thinker to esteem uncoerced and undistorted true conversation as a foundational human good. For our purposes it is significant that for Ignatius, true conversation was both a conduit to and a revelation of God.”

Theology teacher Dr. Jesse Rodriguez, who brings literary analysis to his Sophomores and Freshmen, said, “Regardless of how deep you dig into facts and statistics, the issues are complicated for writers and different people. Everyone is coming from their own position and world view, and that’s good. I [have]loved the idea since I’ve started here. For adults, it gives me the opportunity to be in a classroom setting, where I’m engaged and challenged with different perspectives. But everything has to be grounded in the Gospel and social justice.”

This year, the program will be reading America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis. Holmquist and Negrete selected the book for its reflection on the issue of racism and white privilege in America. Moreover, participants in the conversations are encouraged to connect ideas in the book to current events.

Negrete, who has been participating in the program for five years, said, “The purpose of Ignatian Conversations is to have a place where people of the Loyola community can come together and reflect upon some text in a prayerful way and to have a place to converse and faith share. I sense that there is a segment of the population in our Loyola community that is seeking such a community and a place to grow spirituality.”

Negrete said, “Sessions are about listening to one another respectfully and what’s happening in you as you listen. It’s about paying attention to the experience when I read the book and the experience of when I listen to someone else, even if their opinion is different than mine.”


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