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Autumn workshops on Ignatian spirituality

The second of a series of workshops on Ignatian Spirituality took place via Zoom for parishioners of Saint Francis Xavier’s Church, Gardiner Street, Dublin on 7 November, 2020. Twenty-five people participated in the online meeting organised by Parish Priest, Fr Gerry Clarke SJ, as part of the annual Autumn event. Three other workshops will run over the forthcoming Saturdays, 14, 21 and 28 November, from 11.30am to 1pm.

This year the Gardiner Street team felt that a series of workshops, providing practical tips rooted in key Ignatian concepts, would be of benefit to parishioners who are finding themselves frustrated and challenged by the reinstated Covid-19 restrictions. They also felt that the series would be an ideal opportunity to highlight one of the four Jesuit Apostolic Preferences – To show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and Discernment. Highlighting and exploring the very practical nature of Ignatian Spirituality, especially in difficult times, was also a key concern.

Fr Brendan McManus SJ, Author and Spiritual Director, is facilitating the Autumn series and presented the first workshop entitled ’10 Ignatian Tips for Surviving Lockdown – Praying Your Way to Peace and Positivity’ on 24 October. It was attended by over 30 participants and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In a rich and focused presentation, Fr Brendan showed the group ways by which they could come to notice and experience God in all things, especially in the ‘messiness’ generated by a global pandemic. He also explained key Ignatian concepts such as discernment, consolation, and desolation and showed parishioners how these might play out, in a practical way, in their daily comings and goings.

The second workshop entitled ‘Afterthoughts: An Action Replay of Your Day…with God’, focused on the Examen prayer. In a simple and straightforward manner, Fr Brendan led the group through a practical session on praying the five simple steps of the Examen: 1) Gratitude 2) Petition 3) Review 4) Forgiveness and 5) Renewal. Again, the feedback from participants was extremely positive and affirming. Participants also commented on the wonderful sense of friendship and community that the workshops are creating beyond ‘mass going’. In an age of chaos and uncertainty, the Gardiner Street team are delighted that the pandemic has challenged them to find new and creative ways of ‘being Church’. Zoom workshops are providing an essential lifeline to priests and parishioners alike.

Photo: Brendan McManus SJ, Christine Halloran (Parish Pastoral Assistant), Gerry Clarke SJ.