First cohort of spiritual directors graduates from Loyola’s LIFE program
A 16-student cohort of spiritual directors graduated from the University’s first Loyola Ignatian Formation Experience (LIFE) program at the end of the 2023 semester.
The three-year LIFE program was established and voluntarily led by spiritual directors Rev. Steven Spahn, S.J., Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., and Sue Cesare, M.A. ’09, with assistance from Rev. Dom Totaro, S.J., and Donelda Cook, Ph.D.
“Not only did the students in the program improve their skillsets, but for each one, it was a meaningful and spiritual experience to deepen their faith and build a community amongst themselves,” said Spahn, affiliate faculty of theology and assistant to the director of mission integration. “These participants forged many important connections throughout the process.”
The LIFE program was developed to meet the need for spiritual directors to companion people through the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius. The program provided structure, content, mentoring, and supervision to individuals who have prayed the spiritual exercises and who have discerned a call to the ministry of giving them.
The exercises, laid out by Ignatius, unfold a dynamic process of prayer, meditation, and self-awareness that help those who embark on this nine-month prayer journey—the 19th Annotation of the spiritual exercises—to become more attentive to God's activity in the world, and more responsive to what God is calling them to do.
“We are beautifully blessed by being a companion to one who is looking so carefully, so poignantly, so confidently, for God’s will in his or her life,” said Cesare. “One of the graces experienced by the students and team alike is an increased desire to be more faithful—not only in prayer, but in word and action. As team and students, we are continually being formed in the process.”
For her contributions, Cesare was recently awarded Marquette University’s Alpha Sigma Nu Magis Medal, given to those who best exemplify scholarship, loyalty, and service in their work to better the world.
A closing ceremony was held Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at Loyola’s Alumni Memorial Chapel to honor the students and all their hard work.
Since 2017, through the Office of Mission Integration, Fr. Spahn, Fr. Brown, and Cesare have offered the 19th Annotation to the Greater Baltimore Area, focusing primarily on Jesuit institutions and churches.
The LIFE program will welcome a new cohort of students to train to become spiritual directors starting in January of 2024.