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All Things Jesuit

A time of deep joy

January 28, 2014

Matthew Pyrc, S.J., campus minister, was ordained a deacon on Saturday, Jan. 25. It was the first ordination ever at Seattle University's Chapel of St. Ignatius. Pyrc (right) was ordained by Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain (pictured here at the altar). Joining the archbishop in celebrating the mass were (l. to r.) Deacon Eric Sundrup, S.J., editor in chief of the Jesuit Post; Rev. Tom Lucas, S.J., rector of the Arrupe Jesuit Community; Rev. Pat Lee, provincial of the Oregon Province; and Rev. Sean Michaelson, S.J. provincial assistant for formation. 

Pyrc is technically a transitional deacon; he will be ordained a priest on June 7 in Spokane.

"The ordination was a profound experience for me filling me with a deep joy and consolation," says Pyrc. "At one point in the ritual I lay prostrated on the floor in front of the altar while we invoke the memory of the Christian community and witnesses, saints, from the time of the apostles to today. We ask them to pray for us. I was moved to tears feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit and knowing that there is a two thousand year history before me. This ordination isn't about me but me vowing to serve in a church meant to serve."

A Michigan native, Pyrc joined the Society of Jesus and entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Portland, Ore. in 2006. As part of his Jesuit formation he studied at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley. He holds a Master of Theology and Licentiate in Sacred Theology. His thesis research was on the transformative impact of immersion programs. Pyrc has been at SU since 2011.

In the Roman Catholic Church, deacons are ordained to assist the bishop and his presbyterate as ministers of the word, altar, and charity. They are authorized to proclaim the Word of God, to preach at Mass, to preside at the sacraments of Baptism and Marriage and at the Rite of Christian Burial.

History lessons

January 14, 2014

The next few weeks provide several opportunities for faculty and staff to learn more about a key moment in history of the Jesuits and to explore the Jesuits' significance in world history. 

Suppression and Restoration of the Jesuit Order: A Two-Part Series  

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus, following a 41-year period in which the Jesuits were suppressed by the pope. 

Tom Lucas, S.J., professor of Fine Arts and rector of the Arrupe Jesuit Community will speak on "Jesuit Suppression and Restoration: Cultural Contexts and Challenges, 1773-1814" at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16 at Wyckoff Auditorium. The series continues with Gerald McKevitt, S.J., professor at Santa Clara University, who will give a talk on "Restoration and Relapse: Jesuit Education in the U.S., 1814-1900" at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, again at Wyckoff

"A significant part of the history of Jesuits has been the relationships between the papacy and the Society of Jesus," says Peter Ely, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry. "That relationship has never been better-having a Jesuit pope helps. It has often been worse, as these lectures will make clear. But it's not only about Jesuit relations with the pope. The causes of Suppression and Restoration are complex and fascinating. 

"We are privileged to have two Jesuit historians speak to us on these very significant moments in the history of the Jesuits." 

The lectures are sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Mission and Ministry, the Office of Mission and Identity and the Arrupe Community.

Jesuits in World History: A Symposium and Teacher's Workshop

The Society of Jesus was, as one historian has noted, "The most important organization in the early modern world."  

The Department of History is hosting a two-day gathering on the historical significance of the Jesuits. On Friday Jan. 31, scholars from England, Canada and the United States will explore emerging scholarship on the critical role that the Jesuits played in shaping world history. Visit Jesuits in World History for more information. 

The second day, Feb. 1, is a workshop geared to teachers and focuses on innovative ways to integrate key resources in Jesuit history into world history classes.

"The symposium speakers are designing their talks to be useful for scholars who are familiar with some aspects of Jesuit history and accessible for general audiences who want to have a better appreciation for the role that the Jesuits have played in world history," said Tom Taylor, chair of the history department. He added that there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

SU Jesuits on the run

December 10, 2013

The Dec. 1 Seattle Marathon was very much a Seattle University affair with Uli Steidl, assistant coach of cross country and track and field, winning it all. It was Steidl's 10th Seattle Marathon victory, giving him the fourth-most titles within a single marathon series in the United States. Meanwhile, alumnus Matthew McClement won the half marathon to ensure a complete Redhawk sweep.

Also running in the marathon were two SU Jesuits. Natch Ohno, S.J., assistant to the vice president for Student Development, completed the full marathon, while Trung Pham, S.J., assistant professor of Fine Arts, did the half.

Reached a few days after his 26.2-mile jog around the greater Seattle area, Fr. Ohno deflected attention from his own accomplishment, instead speaking effusively of Steidl's remarkable feat and praising him for the joyfulness with which he runs. But after some prodding, Ohno, left, spoke a bit about the experience, saying he had run a few full marathons before-including one held in conjunction with the 1990 Goodwill Games that former SU President William Sullivan, S.J., chaired-but that it had been a while since he did one.

Ohno ran in the Seattle half marathon last year and started training this summer for the full. He finished at 5:20. "I made it. That was my goal," he said, adding that the hardest part was the wind, particularly coming across the I-90 floating bridge.

For Fr. Pham, the half marathon was his first ever. He played tennis everyday when he lived in California, but picked up running after moving to Seattle "because of its beautiful nature, clean air and different kinds of trails." He said Fr. Ohno suggested he run in the marathon.

"I did not know I could run that far, but my knees are fine" reported Fr. Pham, right. He finished in 1:47 and is now inspired to train for the full marathon next year.

"Natch is my hero for running a full marathon at the age of 65."

SU grads in JVC

November 20, 2013

Six Seattle University graduates are currently serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and three are serving in JVC Northwest. (The two organizations share a mission but are operated as independent entities.) Here they are, with their placements and locations noted.

Jesuit Volunteer Corps  

Megan Garay  - Catholic Charities Maine, Portland, Maine
Abbey Garrow  - Bread of Healing Clinic, Milwaukee, Wis.
Adriana Jackson  - Advocates for Children of New York, Inc., Harlem, Ella Baker House
Katherine McGuinn  - Raphael House of San Francisco Inc., San Francisco, Calif.
Adam Strizich  - St. Joseph's Center - PA, Scranton, Penn.
Jennifer Wirth  - United Neighborhood Centers of NE PA, Scranton, Penn. 

JVC Northwest

Erin Boniface, St. Andrew Nativity, Portland, Ore.
Heather Hanson, SAFV, Sitka, Alaska
Andrew Shahamiri, St. Charles Mission School, Billings, Mont.

Thanks to Mike Bayard, S.J., director of Campus Ministry for the information.

History-making meeting

November 6, 2013

Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus, met last month in Chicago with the presidents and board chairs of all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, as well as the nation's nine provincials and several rectors. SU's President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., who was part of this unprecedented meeting and also chairs the board of directors of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, is pictured here with Father Nicolás and Betty Woods, chair of the SU Board of Trustees. 

Father Sundborg called the meeting "an amazing kind of gathering." He was particularly struck by Father Nicolás' encouragement to change the way in which we relate to today's students and, paraphrasing the superior general, to use "a new language" that is "less explicitly religious" and "more of a wisdom language" so that "we can convert students to their humanity…and the depth of who they are."

The full text of the superior general's remarks is now available at America magazine. 

 (Photo courtesy of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities)

 

Indulge your inner pilgrim

October 22, 2013

Faculty and staff are encouraged to take an Ignatian pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome over spring break (March 20-30, 2014). Sponsored by Mission and Ministry and the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life program, the pilgrimage will be led by SU's own Pat O'Leary, S.J., and Natch Ohno, S.J., as well as Gennyn Dennison of SEEL. The experience is a timely opportunity to reflect on the Ignatian and Franciscan foundations that are at the heart of Pope Francis' spirituality. Register today to assure your place!

 Here's what some past "pilgrims" have said about their experiences: 

 "I am not sure what I expected from this pilgrimage, traveling in the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola. However, I do know that the pilgrimage was just what I needed at this time. For me, this pilgrimage was about my interior life; coming to a clearer awareness of myself: what I need, what I want, what I can do. I understand why Ignatius needed solitude to contemplate and discern AND why he needed companions to discuss with and reflect on his thoughts and actions. I am so grateful to have participated in this pilgrimage, at the sites where Ignatius was, and to have been in the company of a very special group of pilgrims.
- A pilgrim to Spain

"I have returned to the hectic life back home with little time to reflect on our days in Rome. I do carry with me the awe I felt in the first few days, the serenity of being in St. Ignatius' rooms, and the conversations I had with my fellow pilgrims. It was a gift to be a part of this group. I honestly don't know how to express the change I feel inside, it is a new awareness that wasn't there before. I do know there will be changes for me in time and for now I'm trying to find more time to pray. I am grateful to be standing before an open door that is welcoming my first steps.
- A pilgrim to Assisi and Rome  

"What a great pilgrimage!  I thought I understood some of what Ignatius was saying but I realize now that it had been in 'black and white.' Now it is in vibrant color! I so enjoyed sharing the common element of Ignatian spirituality with everyone."
- A pilgrim to Spain

Meet the 2013-2014 SU Jesuits

October 9, 2013

  
Back row (left to right):
 James Selinsky (Controller's Office), Pat Kelly (Theology and Religious Studies), Dave Anderson (Alumni Relations), John Foster (Assistant to the Dean, Matteo Ricci College), Dave Leigh (English), James Taiviet Tran (Boeing engineer, Vietnamese pastoral ministry), Brendan Busse (Matteo Ricci College). 

Second row (left to right): Peter Ely (VP, Mission and Ministry), Trung Pham (Fine Arts), Matthew Pyrć (Campus Ministry), Natch Ohno (Student Development, Assistant Rector), Pat O'Leary (University Chaplain), William O'Malley (Matteo Ricci College), Eric Watson (Chemistry), Josef Venker (Chair, Fine Arts). 

Front row (left to right): Mike Bayard (Director, Campus Ministry), Bob Egan (Pastoral Ministry), Steve Sundborg (President), Tom Lucas (Rector), Ron Funke (Pastoral Ministry), Joseph Carver (President, Seattle Nativity School). 

Absent: Pat Howell (Professor of Pastoral Theology), Tom Murphy (History), John Topel (Pastor, Port Townsend), Pat Twohy (Director, Rocky Mountain Mission, Urban Native American Ministry), Bill Watson (President, Sacred Story Institute).

Jesuit anniversaries

September 24, 2013

Four Jesuits who are or have been members of the Arrupe community are celebrating notable milestones this year. From left to right: James Reichmann, S.J., who moved to Spokane this summer after decades as a philosophy professor and member of the Arrupe community; Mike Kelliher, S.J., who is currently living in California after serving in the Department of Criminal Justice for more than 30 years; Ron Funke, S.J., who lives off campus but is a member of the SU Jesuit community;and Bill O'Malley, S.J., a member of the New York Province who is in his second year as a visiting professor in Matteo Ricci College.
JesuitJubilarians2013_ATJ

Full of wonder

September 10, 2013

 By Matthew Pyrc, S.J.

This summer eight students, five recent SU alumni and two staff members journeyed to Brazil for MAG+S 2013, culminating with World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro on Copacabana beach with Pope Francis. It was a time of wonder--2,500 people on immersion, three million people at the Papal mass on Copacabana beach! Full of wonder is my description of the three weeks; wonder at the intrinsic goodness of humanity. The joy and excitement of bringing strangers together from across the globe instills hope of the great accomplishments people can achieve when we come together.  

The song "Wonder" by Emeli Sand became an unofficial theme song for MAG+S 2013 and was used in a flash-mob dance by the 2,500 pilgrims from Jesuit institutions from around the world. Three lines from the song resonate with the MAG+S pilgrim experience, first: "I can beat the night, I'm not afraid of thunder, I am full of light, I am full of wonder." 

The pilgrim experience reminded us of the Gospel message that all of humanity and creation is created by God, loved by God and worthy to be loved. 2,500 pilgrims, mostly Jesuit university students, gathered in Slavador de Bahia, Brazil (the Jesuits first arrived in the New World in Bahia in 1553) to begin a 10-day pre-World Youth day event. 

 

To kick off MAG+S 2013 there was a celebration called a Welcoming of Nations. Delegates from various countries danced and sang, many in full cultural costumes to celebrate our diversity in the body of Christ. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., the general superior of the Jesuits, preached at a mass before sending the delegates in experience groups for an immersion. In his homily he told the story of a diocese choosing a giraffe as its symbol--an animal with one of the biggest hearts because it needs a big heart to pump blood all the way to its brain. Because of its long neck it has a high point of view.

"Humanity is more than any one of us has experienced in our own countries" he stated. Approaching the people of Brazil and their fellow pilgrims with a big heart and a broad view can change their lives. He reminded us that our faith resides in our hearts. He challenged us to not get caught up in seeing the sights and miss the people. He encouraged us to see the people, engage the people, heart to heart and we will be changed. We then were divided into experience groups, comprised of various nationalities and multiple languages and sent all over the country for an immersion. Some went on a spiritual pilgrimage, some had a cultural immersion, some did service. All were transformed. 

Another line from the flash-mob song, "Wonder": "This light is contagious, go, go tell your neighbors, Just reach out and pass it on."Go to your neighbor, MAG+S/WYD was an experience of community. It was noted by several planners of MAG+S that sending people on immersion in groups of various language could be a disaster--no one being able to understand each other. However, that was not to be the case. People took time to sit with each other, find ways to communicate and to share in whatever way they could. It was the common language of the heart that took a potential Tower of Babel experience and made it a Pentecost experience (in which each heard the gospel in their own language). People quickly bonded and formed community with their experience group. 

SU student Delaney Piper had this to say: 

 "One night my Magis small group celebrated Festa Junina with a group staying in São Paulo. We'd been very busy earlier in the day, and many were exhausted and in no mood to celebrate. Some of the group left the party early to relax in the chapel nearby. After hours of dancing with my new friends I, myself now exhausted, went to find my group. When I found them I was greeted with the gleeful smile of my usually reserved new friend Marie. Together we stayed there until the party was done. The next day Marie told me that my coming to find them had made her night, it had felt like we were all family. That hit me hard. It shocks me how such a thing like that, seeking out people where they are, regardless of having been surrounded by festivities in an exotic country, made a night so special for both of us" (Delaney Piper, SU student). 

Another SU student, An Le, shared how her relationship with her sister has changed for the better:

 "My sister and I both went on the trip, and there was not only a personal transformation, but also a change in our relationship.  We have different types of conversations in comparison to before attending Magis and World Youth Day.  There's a different tone when we are discussing religion and spirituality."

I believe we will be reaping the fruit of this pilgrimage for years to come. It is a wondrous thing that in such a large gathering of peoples, we can experience very personal encounters and transformations. 

After the 10 days of MAG+S, the various experience groups reconvened in Rio for the World Youth Day Celebrations with Pope Francis and the final Mass on the Copacabana beach. In his homily he said what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. 

 "Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all; he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love." Pope Francis

Finally, the third line from the flash-mob song: "When everything feels wrong, and darkness falls upon ya. Just try sing along, this is a message from Cabana." The theme, the message from Copacabana was "The Nations Await us" they await the love for one another that we are called to share. A rhetorical question was asked of the pilgrims, "Do people really understand the fullness of God's Mercy to everyone?" and "what would it look like for you to live that mercy in your own life?" I wonder? It makes me full of wonder.

The flash-mob video can be found on YouTube at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVfgfKZ-LNo

(Photos provided by Matthew Pyrc, S.J.)

Opening new doors

August 13, 2013

The continuum of Jesuit education in the city of Seattle is about to expand. Seattle Nativity School, an independent, Catholic middle school in the Jesuit tradition, will open in September, taking its place alongside its "older" sister institutions Seattle University and Seattle Prep. Most important, Nativity extends the Jesuits' time-honored commitment to serving those most in need as the school will enroll low-income, at-risk students from the Central District and South Seattle.

Located at Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Catholic Church (2800 S. Massachusetts St.), the coed middle school will begin with an inaugural class of about 20 sixth graders and eventually grow to include fifth through eighth graders. To be admitted, students must qualify for the national free and reduced lunch program.

The new school is modeled after the Mission of the Nativity, which was founded by the Jesuits on Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1971. Since then about 60 Nativity schools have opened throughout the country. They are known for successfully preparing children from impoverished backgrounds for high school, and ultimately college.

Seattle University has been an active partner in helping to launch Nativity Middle School. Peter Ely, S.J., vice president for Mission and Ministry, left, was involved from the get-go and currently serves on the school's board of directors.

Nativity's curriculum will include a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in addition to the firm grounding in the humanities for which Jesuit education is known and revered.

Another focus of the school is its extended-day and extended-year programming, which is intended to both bolster the students' academic development and provide them with a safe place after hours. (The first class of Nativity students got a head start on the school year by attending the Summer Academy, which ran for four weeks in June and July.)

Joseph Carver, S.J., of the Oregon Province has been named Nativity's first president by the Seattle Nativity School Board and Fr. Provincial Pat Lee, S.J. has made him available for this work. Father Carver most recently served as regional superior of the Jesuits in Montana and previously taught at Seattle Prep.

Just up the road from SU, Our Lady of Mt. Virgin Catholic Church is a fitting home for Nativity. The Jesuits have factored prominently in the history of the parish-a number its pastors have been members of the Society of Jesus, and Pat Twohy, S.J., of SU's Arrupe Jesuit Community currently serves as the church's parochial vicar.

For more information, visit Seattle Nativity School.

New rector signals new era

July 15, 2013

The Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolás has appointed Tom Lucas, S.J., art historian at the University of San Francisco, as the new rector of the Arrupe Jesuit Community at Seattle University.

Father Lucas, left, will be formally installed as new rector at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, at the Chapel of St. Ignatius, as part of the university's celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius. Lucas will deliver the homily and Pat Howell, S.J.,  who is finishing his term as rector, will preside.

Earlier in the morning SU's Jesuit community will host a continental breakfast at the Arrupe Jesuit Residence, 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.  Father Howell encourages faculty and staff to attend one or both of the events "to celebrate the feast day of St. Ignatius and our own terrific tradition of Jesuit higher education at Seattle University."

Howell will take a sabbatical this coming year and plans to spend the first three months of it on the staff of America, the well-known, national Jesuit magazine exploring religion, culture and politics.  He will be living at the America house headquarters in midtown Manhattan.

The appointment of a California Jesuit as rector at Seattle University, Howell said, is part of a transition to a new West Coast province, which will occur in 2017. "The Jesuits of the Northwest are currently in the process of discerning the new provincial for the Oregon Province to replace Pat Lee, S.J., who will finish his term in 2014. Whoever is named the next Oregon provincial will become the West Coast provincial three years later."

The new West Coast province will cover a geographic area from the Mexican border to Point Barrow, Alaska, and from the Pacific Ocean to the North Dakota, Colorado and New Mexico borders. As Howell pointed out, the Oregon and California provinces were actually united until 1932 when the north-south split occurred.

The leaderships of the five Jesuit universities (Loyola Marymount University, University of San Francisco, Santa Clara University, Gonzaga University, and SU) on the West Coast have already been meeting annually over the last two years to explore all the possibilities for apostolic collaboration within the boundaries of the new province.

You can learn more about Fr. Lucas at his USF web page.

Finding the Sacred in the Everyday

June 19, 2013

Story by Annie Beckmann

It's no small task when you decide to amplify St. Ignatius Loyola's 16th century examination of conscience to make it inviting, relevant and meaningful to a contemporary lay audience.

Since the early 1990s, William Watson, S.J., has been on that winding path. Motivated by a daily spiritual discipline that proved therapeutic in his own life, Father Watson chose to devote his energies to bringing tools for discernment and reflection to a wider audience. Today, he's an evangelist among students, faculty, administrators and chaplains from other faith traditions, connecting them with the spiritual legacy of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuit order.

Early on, Fr. Watson, left, decided he wanted to build an Ignatian-based retreat program that might guide religious faithful-Catholics and Christians of all ages-around the world.  He served as director of retreats for Georgetown University before he was named vice president for mission at Gonzaga University in 1999. It wasn't until later, though, that he called his program Sacred Stories.

Fr. Watson concentrated on how St. Ignatius developed his Spiritual Exercises with prayers, contemplation and meditations for greater discernment, moral wisdom and, ultimately, deep personal transformation. He reread the saint's autobiography to explore not just the spiritual but the psychological for a closer examination of conscience.

Remarkably, the many life crises Ignatius experienced in the 16th century-narcissism, gambling addiction, aggression and more-make him relevant today, according to Fr. Watson. Learning to recognize who you are, he says, is central to understanding the prayer exercises, which Watson adapted with modern-day approaches for conquering fear, anxiety, grief, sins, addictions and destructive compulsions.

Fr. Watson accumulated thousands of pages of feedback from contemporary Catholic and interfaith audiences on how a 21st-century take on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises might transform a person's dysfunctional patterns into grace and healing.

In his early 50s he completed his doctorate and returned to SU in 2009 as a resident chaplain at Campion Hall (he previously served at SU as liturgy and music director in 1978.) Last year Watson launched the nonprofit Sacred Story Institute (SSI).

Hundreds of spiritual directors and parishioners-including SU students and alumni-throughout the Seattle Archdiocese have been participating in SSI's research project to help create a pastoral resource of Fr. Watson's Sacred Story method, recently published in the book, Forty Weeks: An Ignatian Path to Christ with Sacred Story Prayer. Participants in the Sacred Story program spend one to two 15-minute sessions daily devoted to awakening one's conscience and consciousness through prayer.

Husband, father and engineer Bret Taylor was raised in Evangelical, Fundamentalist and Gospel churches before he became a Catholic nearly seven years ago. He was among 25 parishioners from Our Lady of the Lake in Seattle who signed on to take part in the 10-week Sacred Story prayer exercises featured in Fr. Watson's book, Sacred Story: An Ignatian Examen for the Third Millennium.

"Sacred Story turned out to be very palatable to a new Catholic with roots on the Protestant end of Christianity," says Taylor. "Early on Sacred Story seemed a two-person effort-myself and God. It was a struggle every single day to read and reread the teaching and to pray and think and attempt to internalize the story."

Julie MacAller says she was motivated to participate in the Ignatian prayer exercises because of a negative impression of it and to have a better relationship with God. MacAller is a 2013 graduate of the Master of Arts in Transforming Spirituality program in the School of Theology and Ministry.

While taking part in the prayer exercises was mostly solo, MacAller appreciated the monthly group meetings with Fr. Watson at her parish, Holy Family in Kirkland.

"Those meetings were very helpful because I heard where others were struggling," says MacAller, a recent grad of the master's degree in transforming spirituality from the School of Theology and Ministry. "I also had a good friend who was part of the program and we supported each other through our journeys."

It wasn't always easy, though.

"I was constantly anxious at the beginning about whether I was doing them 'right,' which made them more difficult than they needed to be. Beyond that, I found the basic discipline of prayer periods easy," she says.

Jesuit spirituality has always captivated Tom Schutte, coordinator of Campus Ministry and chair of the religion department at O'Dea High School in Seattle.

"Since my high school days, the Ignatian path has helped me gain intimacy with my faith in Christ and shown me a deeply human route to connect with God," he says.

Jesuit educated at high school and at Boston College where he earned a master's degree, Schutte says both settings were influential for his exposure to Ignatian practices.

His parish, Holy Rosary in Edmonds, offered him the opportunity to work with Sacred Story Institute resources for the individual daily retreat experience.

The dedication to mindful Ignatian prayer has been the most valuable aspect for Schutte.

"With daily dedication to the program, the gentle mercy of God will awaken you to a whole new way to live well. … People are hungry for an experience of God's sacred presence, something that is deep, real, personal and living," he explains. "For me, the Sacred Story Institute program fed this hunger in a unique and special way. It has been like a spiritual surgery that opened up troubled areas and infused new healing and human vitality into my life."

Forty Weeks: An Ignatian Path to Christ with Sacred Story Prayer, Fr. Watson's latest book in the Sacred Story series, is a pastoral resource based on the feedback of those who've tried the weeks long program.

No matter who goes through the experience, Fr. Watson says it makes you look at what might be blocking your surrender to God.

"We experience sickness, disease, sadness and emotional dysfunction of all kinds when we turn from God to satisfy the self," he says. "God is the one who can repair our hearts and get us back on the road of integrated healing."

Learn more about the Sacred Story Institute at http://sacredstory.net/