Eighty leaders in Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit education participated in the International Seminar on Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality (Seminario Internacional sobre Pedagogía y Espiritualidad Ignaciana – SIPEI), held in Manresa, Spain, from November 2 to 8. Participants included Joseph Petriello, PhD, assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the USA Northeast Province, who, along with 13 other colleagues, represented North America. Together, they joined Jesuits and collaborators from 31 countries throughout the world to discuss ways to facilitate dialogue between those dedicated to Jesuit education and those focused on Ignatian spirituality within the tradition of the Society of Jesus.
SIPEI participants visited Montserrat, where Ignatius kept vigil before the altar of Our Lady in March of 1522, leaving behind his sword and dedicating his life to God.
SIPEI took place near the Cave of St. Ignatius, where he experienced the powerful spiritual revelations that would shape the rest of his life. The seminar consisted of five days of deep conversation centered on the meaning of forming persons of conscience, competence, compassion, and commitment within the general framework of our global network of Jesuit schools. In-person participants were joined by over 4,000 participants via social networks and live streaming, representing all corners of the vast Jesuit network of schools. “SIPEI was a new opportunity to renew the dialogue between two essential dimensions of the Society of Jesus and its apostolic works,” said Dr. Petriello. “The goal was to explore the convergence of the most significant contemporary educational trends with Ignatian pedagogy and spirituality. By gathering as a global network of Jesuit secondary and pre-secondary schools, we made a major contribution toward the pedagogical renovation of Jesuit education, a process which began in 2012 at the International Colloquium on Jesuit Secondary Education in Boston.”
The conversations at SIPEI took seriously the call of General Congregation 35, which emphasizes that serving Christ’s mission today means paying special attention to its global context. Four goals emerged from the seminar to help drive pedagogical renovation as a global network of Jesuit schools: to change our learning and teaching environments to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century; to incorporate social action programs that focus on solidarity with others; to collaborate as a worldwide network of schools through Educate Magis; and to create regional and worldwide events that continue the initiatives of SIPEI.
As part of a mid-week retreat day, SIPEI participants visited the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat, where Ignatius held vigil before the altar of Our Lady of Montserrat in March 1522. They also visited various locations in Manresa, where Ignatius stayed from March 1522 to February 1523. “Praying in the same places as St. Ignatius did was very powerful for all of us present,” shared Dr. Petriello. “Reflecting on Ignatius’ own hopes and struggles for the Society of Jesus inspired us to trust more deeply in God’s presence in our work five centuries later.” The week ended with a visit to the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, where the group attended Mass in the chapel of the Crypt. The seminar concluded with a visit to Jesuïtes Sarrià-Sant Ignasi, a Jesuit school founded in 1892 that currently serves 3,000 students. The school offers early childhood through secondary education.
The work of SIPEI continues as the participants bring its vision of pedagogical renewal back home to their schools and Ignatian colleagues. “Our time in Manresa invited us to reflect on Jesuit education amidst the extraordinary changes of our times,” said Dr. Petriello. “Through dialogue, prayer, and discernment, we are now called to be creative agents of change in our schools, as we educate women and men who will be visionary leaders committed to peace, justice, and solidarity with the poor. It is truly an exciting opportunity to connect and collaborate with Jesuit and Ignatian colleagues throughout the world in the hope of transforming our worldwide network of schools.”
Video of all presentations and seminar discussions can be accessed online by registering on the SIPEI website, www.sipei.org/en.