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2016 Ignatian Pilgrimage

Highlights from the 2016 Ignatian Pilgrimage


Jeffrey Barnett, Psychology/Loyola College Dean's Office

Rebekah Eklund, Theology

George Miller, Campus Ministry

Camika Royal, Urban Education


2016 participants gathered in front of the Statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola at the Cathedral at Montserrat in Spain. Courtesy of Rebekah Eklund.

The Basilica of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Azpeitia, Spain. Courtesy of Jeffrey Barnett.

A statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Basilica of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Azpeitia, Spain. Courtesy of Jeffrey Barnett.

Sunrise from the Cross of St. Miquel at Montserrat, Spain. Courtesy of Rebekah Eklund.

Group photo in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Courtesy of Rebekah Eklund.

Loyola Pilgrims in St. Ignazio Church in Rome. Courtesy of Rebekah Eklund.

Montserrat Monastery at sunrise. Courtesy of Rebekah Eklund.

Reflections on the 2016 Ignatian Pilgrimage

By Jeffrey Barnett

The 2016 Ignatian Pilgrimage was comprised of colleagues from Loyola, Holy Cross, Xavier, and John Carroll Universities. This 11-day pilgrimage was filled with amazing experiences. I found the fellowship of these new colleagues and friends to be wonderful and the pilgrimage itself was a deeply enriching experience for me. I had done a lot of reading and have a number of discussions with colleagues in preparation for the pilgrimage. I greatly enjoyed all I learned from this reading and these discussions. But, the experiences during the pilgrimage brought it all alive for me. I now have a much deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the life and times of St. Ignatius of Loyola, his personal journey (spiritually and physically), and his impact on the world around him, then and now. I bring back to Loyola University Maryland a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of and commitment to the values and mission of the Jesuits and of Loyola University Maryland. 

The pilgrimage also was an amazing cultural and spiritual experience. The ability to travel and walk in St. Ignatius of Loyola’s steps, to visit his family’s home, his rooms in Rome, and many other important sites from his spiritual journey and life had a deeply emotional impact on me that I had not anticipated experiencing. While it was wonderful to see so much amazing architecture and artwork throughout Spain and in Rome, the experience of walking in his steps and visiting significant sites from his life, really was an amazing experience whose effects and impact couldn’t be achieved no matter how many books I read or discussions I had. It was one thing to read about the cave where Ignatius struggled and then developed the Spiritual Exercises. It was quite another to be in that cave personally and to actually have mass in that cave (among a number of other special sites). 

I also greatly appreciated the fellowship of my colleagues and friends on this trip. I participated in a number of very thought-provoking and moving discussions. My views, perspectives, and understanding have been expanded and enriched through this experience. 

I strongly recommend participation in the Ignatian Pilgrimage to anyone who has the opportunity to participate in it in the future. It truly is an amazing opportunity and a once in a lifetime experience.

Reflections on Ignatian Pilgrimage 2016

By Rebekah Eklund

Shortly before departing on the Ignatian Pilgrimage, I saw a sign in the Loyola library that simply said “Notice.” I decided to interpret this as a verb, and it became my motto during the pilgrimage – a reminder to be attentive, a prompt to follow the Jesuit teaching to find God in all things. The trip was remarkable not only for the magnificent natural beauty of Spain and the craftwork of the churches in both Spain and Rome, but also for the meaningful conversations and gradually developing friendships with fellow pilgrims from Loyola and other Jesuit institutions.

I especially enjoyed reading Ignatius’ autobiography and some of his letters while tracing the steps of his journey from his home, to Manresa and Montserrat, and then to Barcelona and Rome. In an unexpected way, I felt that I came to know Ignatius himself – earnest, fiery, utterly devoted to Christ, and ultimately wise and discerning. I saw a painting of Ignatius in a museum a couple days after the Pilgrimage ended, and it was like running into an old friend.

I came home re-energized for teaching and connecting with students, and with a new sense of appreciation for the tenacity of those first Jesuits, who overcame objections to their new order, who insisted on being free to travel and to live in the world rather than be bound by the duty of living in monasteries and praying the hours, who stayed in cities to care for plague victims, and who sought to educate rich and poor alike in their schools.