SU Voice Alumni Blog

Celebrating 50 Years of Seattle U Soccer

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on November 3, 2016 at 10:11 AM PDT

On September 30, many in Seattle were celebrating the last few days of sunshine before a wet and windy fall would set in. On Seattle University’s campus, a different celebration was taking place. Joe Zavaglia, ’71, and his teammates from Seattle University’s first soccer team returned to campus to celebrate their legacy of Seattle U soccer, now in its 50th year.

According to Joe, seeing the program celebrate 50 years is humbling and beyond emotion. “When you look at how hard it was to get the program started and how little we had at the beginning, we’ve come so far. We would practice in the rain and when we came in to the gym to shower we didn’t have any towels or soap like the other teams had.  We always felt like the underdogs. And we worked hard to prove ourselves and that we were to be respected as athletes.”

Since its inception, Seattle University’s men’s soccer team has gone on to win two national championships, more than any other athletics program on campus.

“I want to thank the alumni community and the students who would come out to games and be great fans for us,” Joe shared.

To celebrate 50 years of Seattle University soccer, soccer alumni and staff came together to plan a day of festivities,  including a brunch for the original team members, a social, a pre-game dinner with current players, a victorious game against Utah Valley and a post-event gathering. Many alumni returned to campus to cheer on the Redhawks in their anniversary game. A highlight was seeing dozens of former players of all generations recognized on the field at halftime.

The fanfare didn’t end on campus. The Seattle University’s men soccer team was recognized on the field during halftime at a recent Seattle Sounders game.  During the recognition, the current team captain leaned over to Joe and asked, “Fifty years ago did you ever think you would be celebrated on this field for starting the Seattle University soccer program?” 

While the team has come far over these past fifty years, Joe hopes they will go farther.  Joe’s first priority for the future of the team is around personal growth. “A lot of people look at national championships, but the most important thing for me and other soccer alumni is that we continue to develop our players to be well respected and honorable men after they leave SU. It’s about developing men who makes a difference in the world.”  According to Joe, the soccer team is like a family and the alumni are actively involved in helping the current players and looking after one another.

Joe’s second hope for the team is that Seattle University is recognized as the premier team in the country, followed by the desire to win more championships. Joe hopes the alumni community know how highly regarded our men and women’s soccer programs currently are. “We may not be the Gonzaga of basketball,” Joe said, “but we are the Seattle U of soccer.”

Check out more pictures from the celebration on our Facebook page and be sure to cheer on our soccer team in the WAC Tournament.

Ignatian Silent Retreat: "The Gentleness of Spacious Silence, the Freedom for Embodied Love"

Posted by Magis: Alumni Living the Mission on October 6, 2016 at 12:10 PM PDT

 

Friday, November 4 - Sunday, November 6, 2016
Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades (Federal Way)

Looking for a quiet weekend retreat? The Ignatian Silent Retreat is a three-day experience which provides prayer, reflection, individual spiritual direction, and community. Jesuit-educated alumni join faculty and staff of Seattle University for the weekend. Be sure to sign up for this retreat opportunity! The cost of the retreat is $125, which includes a $25 non-refundable deposit (to be applied towards the balance of your retreat cost). The weekend includes rooming, meals, and materials.  Register online at https://ignatian-silent-retreat-2016.eventbrite.com  There are only 10 alumni spots, so register now and don’t miss out!!  Please contact Eddie Salazar (SALAZARE@seattleu.edu) with questions.

Sponsored by the Center for Jesuit Education and Seattle University Alumni Association. 

 

SU Spirits: Stories of Seattle University's Ghosts

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on October 6, 2016 at 11:10 AM PDT

Fall is the time of year when the days grow shorter, the leaves turn gold and orange and people break out their favorite ghost stories in preparation for Halloween. This October we wanted to join the spine-tingling fun by sharing our own ghost stories and we look no further than our campus for inspiration. We asked faculty, staff, students and Jesuits to share this experiences with the spooky side of Seattle U.  

Our first story comes to us from Bellarmine Hall, a location that has seen many residents come and go and according to one current student, maybe some have chosen to stay behind.

During her sophomore year, Dalena Le and her roommates were preparing for bed, when something unexpected happened. All three were in the room going through their evening routine. Dalena was at the sink next to the doorway washing her face when suddenly the heavy door to the room opened as if someone were coming inside.

 “When the door shut, I alerted my roommates about what happened. We sort of stilled, looking at each other.”

“Was someone there?” they asked.

The answer was, “No.”

Our next story takes us up the hill to another residence hall with a well-known reputation for creepy occurrences. Campion Hall is located on the south side of campus and is 12 stories high. It houses 650 residents and maybe a few more that aren’t on the books.

Last year Margaret Girardin was a freshman living on the 7th floor of Campion Hall.  “My room always had some strange stuff going on. The magnetic closet doors would open, weird sounds, items falling off shelves, including the ceramic cross my friend had made me, which fell and broke. My roommate and I would often get strange feelings.  One night I came back late just as my roommate was about to call and tell me she couldn’t be alone in the room anymore. With all this, it was always a joke with us and our friends that our room was haunted.”

The activity came to a head one evening. “We closed our laptops and went to bed. Later that night I was woken by the shaking of my bed.  I immediately thought that there had been an earthquake. I went to  check my phone and realized I couldn’t move. It felt like I was being pushed by two fingers on each shoulder. I was terrified and I tried to yell out. I heard a voice, which I’d assumed to be my roommates, saying, ‘It’s okay,’ and was able to move. I rolled over and pulled a pillow over my head and went back to sleep, assuming I was just having an incredibly vivid dream and was calling out in my sleep and woke her up.”

The next morning Margaret woke up to find her roommate’s bed empty. It turns out her roommate had been overcome with a strange feeling  during the night and felt unable to stay in the room. At three o’clock in the morning she grabbed her keys and drove home to her parents’ house 30 minutes away.

Margaret isn’t the only one to have experiences in Campion Hall. Campus legend claims a girl died in the building and makes her presence known through mysterious handprints on windows and even by appearing to some of those residents who occupy her former room.

A person doesn’t always need to see something supernatural to get the sense that someone or something paranormal is paying them a visit. One staff member reported receiving over 50 missed calls on her office phone around midnight every night for a few weeks straight.

Who was calling? Someone in the 1103 East Madison building, a former funeral home. Librarians in Lemieux Library claim to smell cigarette smoke around the desk of a former librarian who passed away on campus and was a chain smoker. A few of us in the Alumni Association office have felt a cold breeze followed by footsteps coming up behind us only to turn around and discover we are alone in our cubicles.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or attribute these stories to overactive imaginations, one thing is for sure—fall is the perfect time to turn off the lights and tell some spooky ghost stories.

The Roach Family: Celebrating Three Generations of a Seattle U Education

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on October 6, 2016 at 10:10 AM PDT

This year we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Seattle University, but it’s not just 125 years of Seattle University we are celebrating, it is the alumni who have helped shape us over the past 125 years. For some SU families, Seattle University is more than just their alma mater. It is a family tradition. We call these families Seattle University legacy families.

Each fall we invite legacy families to celebrate their current students with a pinning ceremony. One such legacy family is the Roach family. Granddaughter Sinead Thornhill is this year’s legacy student speaker and a Seattle University freshman.  Sinead is the last of the 3rd generation of her grandmother, Patricia Sullivan Roach’s descendants to attend Seattle University. Patricia Sullivan, ’46, was the first of a 25 member strong Seattle University family legacy. Patricia and her husband Jack had 9 children, all of whom attended Seattle University, including Katie Thornhill, ’85, Sinead’s mother. Four spouses and 11 grandchildren continued the family legacy.

With so many Chieftains, now Redhawks, in the family, Seattle University was Sinead’s first choice of university, just as it was for her mother Katie. “My siblings went to Seattle U and I liked what I saw. It was the only school I had my eye on.” As a student, Katie was a member of the Irish Student Union and participated in Mission and Ministry retreats.

How does Katie feel now that her daughter is carrying on the family tradition of an SU education? She’s thrilled. “It’s pretty spectacular. Sinead is a smart girl and she’s excited to attend Seattle U.  I’m excited to see what she does with her Seattle U education. We are all proud to be a part of Seattle U.”

Despite having 24 family members attend SU, Sinead didn’t feel any family pressure to carry on the family tradition, but she admits there were a lot of people rooting for her to choose Seattle U. What made Seattle U her first choice? “Seattle University is in the heart of the city. There’s going to be a lot going on and I know I can expand my mind here in ways I couldn’t at other universities because of the Jesuit pillars the education is rooted in. I know I can give my heart to others and explore.”

Though only being on campus a short time, Sinead has fully embraced life at SU. “It has not been a hard transition at all because I felt so welcome here. Despite my comfort, I hope I continue to step out of my comfort zone,” Sinead said. She was recruited for the rowing team, joined Hui O Nani and is planning to get involved in campus ministry and intermural sports. “I’m looking forward to carving my own part of the family story at Seattle U.”

You can hear Sinead talk about what her family legacy means to her on October 21 at the Legacy Family Pinning Ceremony. If you have a current Seattle U legacy student, RSVP now to participate in the pinning ceremony when you are here for Family Weekend.

Redhawk-Run Breweries

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on October 6, 2016 at 12:10 AM PDT

It’s no secret that Seattle loves its breweries and microbrews, but did you know that a number of those breweries are owned and operated by Seattle U alumni? We sat down with three Seattle breweries run by Redhawks to find out what sets them apart from the competition.

Rooftop Brewing Company
1220 W Nickerson St.
Seattle, WA

Craig Christian and his wife, Jessica Cohen, are graduates of the Seattle University School of Law and co-owners of the Rooftop Brewing Company. While an avid home brewer for years, Craig never expected to be a brewery owner. “I was in law school with plans to go into environmental law or work for a non-profit,” Craig shared. A desire to stay in Seattle and go into business for himself was the spark that would become Rooftop Brewing Company.

“The Seattle brewing community is amazing and incredible – it’s a group that is fun to be around and great to be a part of. Owning and running a business is something I never knew I’d enjoy and be good at, but driving the creative process and watching it take shape has been great,” Craig shared, “We make a great beer and have a great variety available at all times of the year for people to enjoy.”

Rooftop Brewing Company got its start in 2012, but this year marks their first anniversary in their current space. You’ll often find Craig behind the bar serving beer, while Jessica, a full-time lawyer, helps with the business end of things. 

When asked what sets Rooftop Brewing Company apart, Craig said, “We have the greatest rooftop deck in all of Seattle – a lot of people really enjoy sitting outside. In all seasons people can be outside dry and warm and enjoying the view.” Jessica says it’s the beer that sets them apart, “Craig and his team brew a really good product.”

Both Craig and Jessica hope to partner more with Seattle University and continue to host events for alumni groups. They hosted an SU Bridge Young Alumni Happy Hour last year.

 

Peddler Brewing Company
1514 NW Leary Way
Seattle, WA

Haley Woods Keller was a math teacher with a desire to open her own customer service business. She had thoughts of opening a bookstore, but her then boyfriend’s (now husband) 10-year passion for brewing led them to open Peddler Brewing Company.

Peddler Brewing Company is a bicycle-themed bar. “We have a very big bike community following and we want to bridge the gap between all the different types of cyclists—those who are commuters, the weekend warriors, those who ride for fun. We want to build a larger bicycle community in the area.” Peddler aims to be a place that is comfortable to ride your bike to complete with indoor bike parking. The brewery hosts a number of events including a pun slam, trivia nights and outdoor movies.

Haley’s Jesuit education plays a major role in her business. “Working to create a more just and humane world were part of my goals for Peddler. I want a successful company that is connected to the community and to give back every way we can. That really brings me joy on the job,” Haley said. Peddler partners with a number of non-profits in an effort to give back to the community. “Through this process I’ve been introduced to a number of new non-profits and I’ve gotten more involved, which is really cool,” Haley shared.

 “My liberal arts education at Seattle University required that I take a number of classes outside of my area of study. I never thought I’d be using the accounting and finance classes I took and now I use those skills all the time.”

Haley didn’t only attend Seattle U, she also participated in Magis’ Contemplative Leaders in Action program. The people that she met through that program were a big support as she opened the brewery and many of them went on to be her co-workers at Peddler.

“One of the things I enjoy the most is tackling the challenges that come up and how each day I get to do something different. I love that I get to choose the people I work with,” Haley said.

We asked her if she has a favorite among her brews. “Tangerine Hefeweizen is one that I just love – it’s one of the few recipes that was my idea. It’s so good and refreshing and great all year round.”

Haley made sure to give a shout out to their outdoor event space that can currently hold up to 400 people and is in the process of being winterized so it can be enjoyed year round. So the next time you find yourself peddling your bike, stop by Peddler Brewery for a cold one.

 

Naked City Brewery & Tap House
8564 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA

What do you call a poet, teacher and creative writer? The co-owner of Naked City Brewery and Tap House. Bryan Miller was a Sullivan Scholar and a Creative Writing major at Seattle University. After graduation he moved to New York City where he was a writer and teacher for over a decade.  His role of writer translated well to the marketing field and eventually he became a business consultant. Helping clients grow their brands inspired Bryan to want to grow his own.

He connected with two friends back in Seattle who were in the process of opening a brewery and asked if he could join the “brewery party.” Not only did he apply his skills as a business consultant to help Naked City Brewery and Tap House grow its brand, but he helped his buddies physically build the space as well.

Naked City is mostly a restaurant space holding up to 250 people. “There was definitely a big learning curve to running a restaurant, but it’s great,” Bryan said. “It’s like running an emergency room with nothing at stake.”

According to Bryan, what makes Naked City unique is that it was modeled after the Public House. “The public house is an institution that goes way back all the way to the New England colonies. They had two public buildings—the church and the public house,” Bryan shared. Naked City has embraced its role as community meeting place and aims to be a place of culture and conversation.

They partner with KUOW and Humanities of WA to host “Think and Drink,” cultural programming, Opera on Tap, a wide variety of charity events and more. Naked City has twenty house beers on tap and 20 rotating guest beers. “There’s always something fresh and new to try.”

On October 22, Naked City is celebrating its 8th anniversary with an all-day celebration. Bryan invites the alumni community to join the festivities.

Seattle University alumni have contributed to the vibrant brewing scene with some stand out establishments, but you don’t need to take our word for it. Go out and try them for yourselves. 

Celebrating 125 Years of Seattle University

Posted by Seattle University Alumni Association on September 1, 2016 at 11:09 AM PDT

In 1891, two Jesuits, Fathers  Victor Garrand and Adrian Sweere, founded what is now Seattle University. This year, we will have a year-long celebration of Seattle U’s 125th anniversary, starting with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, in September. Throughout the year, we will be honoring the history of Seattle University, while looking ahead to our aspirations and plans for the next 25 years.

The university has flourished in the 25 years since its centennial celebration. Our academic programs have expanded and the university continues to grow in esteem; commitment to our mission has deepened; our campus has changed dramatically; and our student body has grown not only in numbers, but in quality and diversity.

Our alumni have made us who we are and are indispensable to the future we envision for Seattle U. The 125th is a perfect time to deepen your engagement with the institution you have helped us build.

All your favorite signature events are back with an added bit of 125th flare. We are excited to welcome you, your family and your friends to cheer, celebrate and serve during Homecoming Weekend, February 2-5.

The excitement of the 125th anniversary culminates in our biggest celebration of the year, Grand Reunion Weekend May 5-7, 2017. All alumni are invited for a weekend full of fun. We’ll kick off the weekend with the 32nd Annual Alumni Awards on Friday night and continue the celebration throughout the weekend with tours, college and school receptions, mass, brunch, athletics and most importantly, reunions. The classes of 2012-16, 2007, 1997, 1992, 1987, 1977 and 1967 and prior will be hosting reunion gatherings. If you want to help plan your class’ reunion gathering, email us at alumni@seattleu.edu.

If you are in the area, you’ve already seen our 125th brand on the Broadway street car.

Starting today, you’ll see 125th branding in communications, around campus and in the community. We will be sharing stories of our alumni who have gone on to be leaders in their fields and communities. The 125th Commemorative Alumni Directory, which drops in January, will feature alumni profiles and a timeline of notable moments in Seattle U history, and the Seattle University Alumni Magazine will feature the lasting impact of Seattle University and a look at how we dare forth into a greater future for our university, students and alumni.

As we celebrate 125 years of Seattle University’s influence, reflect on the impact Seattle University has had on your life and how you can join us for the next 25 years to increase the difference we make in Seattle and the world.

We look forward to celebrating with you.

 

 

Alumni Spotlight Brayden Olson, ’08 | Bringing Video Games to the Classroom

Posted by Miranda Benson, '16 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Case studies are definitely not the most exciting part of getting a degree. For most students, case studies are simply not as effective as intended. Brayden Olson, ’08, wanted to change that—so he founded Recurrence, Inc., a company that brings case studies to life in the form of interactive video games.

 

Brayden, who majored in Business Management as an undergraduate student, saw firsthand how institutions try to differentiate teaching styles, but often come up short. “Like many students, I felt the disconnect between what I was learning in the classroom and the demands of a 21st Century job,” he explains. “I never felt this was a limitation of the professors or the institution, but a failure of the tools we are empowering them with. This inspired me to think what more we could do to bring experiential learning into the classroom.”

 

For Brayden, the answer to this problem was video games. With long-term goals of revolution higher education by creating engaging, game-based content, Recurrence, Inc. has started out by making an online game for business students. The game puts students in the roles of executives facing big issues—like labor strikes or layoffs—and gives them the knowledge and power to make the decision. Just like reality, there are consequences for each decision and stakeholders to worry about at all turns. “The students are leaning to think critically while in the virtual shoes of actual leaders in their profession. What could be better than that?”

 

The institutions that have adopted the game surely agree. Since going commercial in January 2016, Recurrence’s game has been purchased by dozens of schools, including the University of Washington, Stanford University, Penn State University and many others. Brayden and his team have already begun developing a version of the game for academic institutions in India and are in talks to do the same in China. And the response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive—96% of students felt more engaged and said they better understood the material because of the gaming experience.

 

While Brayden is thrilled by Recurrence’s success, he admits that being an entrepreneur is far more difficult than it seems. “Many entrepreneurs…measure themselves against impossible ideals: you should work 16 hours, sleep 4, wear the same clothes every day, success will come instantly after the equivalent of a 3-minute movie montage, [and] if it doesn’t, you’re on the wrong track and a failure. There are times when I still [hold myself to these ideals].” Brayden keeps himself grounded and focused by thinking of some of the biggest names in business, like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates, all of whom struggled immensely and didn’t find success until at least their thirties.

 

To better keep himself away from these high standards, Brayden stays busy outside of Recurrence. He has ownership in numerous businesses, including as a partner at Real Estate Game Works, which is developing a “new gamified continuing education platform” for real estate agents.

 

Brayden also has a deep commitment to civic engagement. He is on the Board of Washington’s 48th Legislative District and received the signatory pen from Governor Inslee for his work on the Washington J.O.B.S. Act of 2014. He hopes that his involvement rubs off on others: “During the next chapter of my life, I am hoping to see dozens of millennial leaders with servant hearts step into roles of leadership throughout all levels of local government.”

 

Through all his success, Brayden has remained very conscious of who helped him along the way—including the Seattle U community. “Seattle University helped connect me to my first mentor, who was instrumental in my opportunity to become an entrepreneur.” Brayden says he also owes a lot to Dr. Leo Simpson, Professor Emeritus of the Albers Management Program: “He was highly supportive to me both during and after my education at Seattle University.”

 

With so many recent advancements in technology, like the launch of augmented reality game Pokémon Go and the creation of virtual reality headset Oculus Rift, Brayden is grateful to be a technology entrepreneur these days. “As someone who grew up in a family of educators and was a beta tester on one of the first 3D virtual worlds, I could not be more thrilled to get to be part of this industry at such a pivotal time!”

 

You can learn more about Brayden and Recurrence, Inc., on the company website.

Alumni Benefit: Online Prayer Community

Posted by Caitlin Joyce ,'12, '18 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love. - Saint Teresa of Avila.

As a Jesuit university, we are dedicated to supporting the spiritual needs of all of our alumni and fostering a sense of community, which is why we are excited to announce the launch of our new online prayer community.

The online prayer community offers Seattle University alumni, students, faculty and staff of all faith traditions the opportunity to come together in prayer and offer spiritual support to our Seattle University community.

Alumni have the option to join the prayer community and receive weekly emails of those in need of prayers or to submit a prayer request asking the Seattle U community for their prayers. Prayer requests may be included in the weekly email, on the prayer community website or in the prayer journal in the Chapel of St. Ignatius. 

Our first email will go out Friday, September 2. You are invited to submit your prayer requests and join the prayer community at any time.

Spiritual support is now just a click away.

  

Alumni Awards 2017: Nominations Now Open

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

A NASA scientist, a Medal of Honor recipient, a Grammy winning artist and a visionary in higher education. What do all of these have in common? Each has won a Seattle University Alumni Award, one of the university’s highest honors.


Every year, the Seattle University Alumni Association hosts the Alumni Awards, honoring six outstanding members of the Seattle University community who embody our Jesuit values by demonstrating leadership and service to others. This year’s Alumni Awards won’t be just celebrate our six winners, but 125 years of Seattle University.


You can help us make the 32nd Annual Alumni Awards truly memorable! As alumni of Seattle University you are in the perfect position to know which community members are deserving of recognition. Help us identify our 2017 honorees by nominating a deserving individual for an alumni award today.


Winners are awarded in the following six categories:

Alumna/us of the Year - For outstanding leadership and service to the community and Seattle University.
University Service - For outstanding service to the University (alumni and non-alumni are eligible).
Community Service - For exceptional service to the community through volunteer or professional activities.
Professional Achievement - For outstanding achievement in the professional arena.
Distinguished Faculty - Presented to a Seattle University faculty member who has made a special contribution to students and the university.

Outstanding Recent Alumna/us - Presented to an alumna or alumnus who graduated in last ten years for outstanding leadership and service.


Not sure who to nominate? Read the bios of previous winners and get an idea of who you might want to nominate.


Visit the Alumni Awards page to learn more and nominate a deserving individual before October 21, 2016.


Thank you for your help to celebrate Seattle University excellence.

A Pilgrimage: Following the footsteps of St. Ignatius

Posted by Caitlin Joyce, '11, '18 on August 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM PDT

The story of St. Ignatius of Loyola is well known to Seattle University alumni. He began his life as one of 13 children and was infatuated with the ideals of courtly love, knights and honorable quests. After being injured in battle, he experienced a conversion while reading “The Life of Christ,” which contained heroic stories of the saints, during his recovery. At this time St. Ignatius reflected on the experiences of God in his life, which he would apply to develop components of the “Spiritual Exercises.”  From his discernment he founded the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. (IgnatianSpirituality.com)

For some, simply learning about the “Spiritual Exercises” and reading about the life of St. Ignatius is not enough—they feel called to be pilgrims and follow in the footsteps of Ignatius himself.

In June, and every other year for the past twenty years, Pat O’Leary, S.J. and joined by Natch Ohno, S.J. [ten years later] have led a pilgrimage retreat to Spain. The retreat was formed out of Fr. Pat’s desire to be a spiritual pilgrim and travel in Ignatius’ footsteps. “This is not a vacation.” Fr. Natch made sure to clarify when we talked about the retreat. “It is a pilgrimage; you are not a tourist.” He went on to describe the daily mass and reflections each pilgrim participates in.

The 40 pilgrims began their retreat at a convent in Loyola, then moved on to San Sabastian, Xavier, Montserrat, Manresa and finally Barcelona.  “As you participate in the retreat you start to have the same experiences as St. Ignatius,” Fr. Natch said, sharing that as a presenter he is able to see the effect the journey has on the pilgrims. “There’s a sense of grace as they go through the rhythm and they begin to imagine this is where Ignatius was. It’s important that they are able to see Ignatius growing up and not as a finished product. You see the transformation people are going through – you see the beauty taking place.”

This trip is open to all alumni and friends of Seattle University and attracts a variety of people, but especially those who have participated in the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) program. SEEL Puget Sound co-sponsors this pilgrimage.

We spoke to Lisa Dennison, Executive Director of SEEL and 2012 Pastoral Leadership alumna, who co-led this year’s pilgrimage. “Two places are seared into my memory from the pilgrimage. The first is Loyola where St. Ignatius was born, convalesced and began his spiritual transformation. When visiting the conversion chapel, I began to understand things in a brand new way. There is a palpable energy there that is spiritually fulfilling and enriching.” Lisa continued, “The second place was Montserrat, an hour outside of Barcelona. It’s where St. Ignatius held a vigil all night and gave up his sword and the trappings of his former life at the foot of the Black Madonna. For those of us captivated by St. Ignatius *and the gift of the Spiritual Exercises, it is very powerful.”

Lisa said that the pilgrimage gave her greater appreciation for the challenges, difficulties and joys St. Ignatius experienced along his spiritual path. She was able to more fully understand the human aspect of his journey and how it connects so profoundly in a relevant way to us.

Another pilgrim, Jennifer Tilghman-Havens, said, “Being in the places that were so transformative in Ignatius' life—the Loyola home where he healed from his war wound, the chapel of the Black Madonna, the cave in Manresa—allowed me to understand more fully the person whose spiritual tradition has so deeply formed and shaped our university and me personally.  It was a gift to have the opportunity to reflect and pray in the places where Ignatius prayed, and to be accompanied by Fr. Pat O'Leary who is the closest living version of St. Ignatius himself.  I came to new understandings about how much Ignatius's insights were countercultural for his time—and continue to be so, even today.”

Let us leave you with some food for thought. When Lisa Dennison visited Montserrat, where St. Ignatius laid down his sword, she contemplated all that signified, “He was laying down his entire identity, everything he fought for and everything he thought he was going to become, to embrace the unknown and God’s plan for him.”

 If you were going to lay down your own symbolic “sword” and identity to embrace the unknown what would that look like for you?