“The graces of the Spiritual exercises are meant to inspire us to serve others.”
- Rev. Steve Surovick, S.J., Senior Director of Mission and Ministry
In October 2022, a dozen Prep colleagues embarked on a faith-enhancing journey to deepen their personal relationship with God. As Prep students are able to experience this through service projects, Kairos and other retreats, with the guidance of Fr. Steve Surovick, SJ, adults at the Prep can take advantage of the opportunity to enhance their own spiritual formation through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
The heart of Ignatian spirituality lives with the ability to engage the Exercises in a one on one setting between the individual and God. Participants learned first hand that faith and everyday life can co-exist. From October through May, participants spent between 20 minutes to one hour daily in guided prayer and reflection and met with a spiritual advisor every other week. This practical and flexible approach allows participants to figure out their personal style. To foster a sense of community, the participants met as a group periodically throughout the experience.
Early morning risers talked to God with their morning coffee; while others with a long commute used their car time for reflection. Participants were able to choose and figure out their own personal style for reflection. "I believe the Exercises called me,” says Science Chair Joe Hendrzak. “When I decided to participate, the obstacles just kept getting removed. Taking part in the Exercises became the best part of my day.” The Spiritual Exercises are tailored to the individual and how God is moving in their own experiences. “The goal is to give God at least 20 minutes--and God will happily take it,” says Fr. Surovick.
Mr. Hendrzak grew in his own faith and reflected, "It's important as a Jesuit educator because we talk about Ignatian spirituality but we need the personal foundation to develop a relationship with our God,” he says. “The Spiritual Exercises helped me to develop a mature relationship.”
Mrs. Jenny Mars, who loves helping students grow in their faith, took time to enhance her own personal journey. “I learned that my relationship with God has matured,” says Mrs. Mars, who works in the Office of Academic Administration. “When I was a child, I looked at God as a disciplinarian--a person in charge, a person who tells me what to do. When I went through the Exercises, I looked at him more as a friend, I saw him as someone who I wanted to make proud.”
Through prayer and reflection participants are drawn into a deeper relationship with God. They are able to share their experience with others making the Exercises more real. Mrs. Mars looks forward to influencing Prep students on Kairos or on service trips. “I hope that I can share this experience with our students so that they can learn, at a much younger age, that a relationship with God can grow and evolve.”
The graces of the Spiritual Exercises reach many, as Fr. Surovick and other spiritual advisors--companions on this journey--are equally impacted. “As a spiritual director, I have a front row seat to see how God is moving in someone’s life. I’m looking over their shoulder as they are strengthening their relationship with God. That is, indeed, a privilege.”