Givers, Guides and Star Gazers
Michael Hansen SJ
I am a Jesuit based in Sydney presently director of the First Spiritual Exercises, a ministry of JISA. I have been working in the spirituality ministry for twenty five years and am the author of several spirituality books.
Like Iñigo Loyola, this ministry only truly developed after my life was totally disrupted by chronic illness and several years of being unable to work. I was physically and emotionally wounded by not being able to ground my identity in performance, or on ‘what I do’.
Year after year I kept saying, ‘when I am better I will do …’, until I realized I was wishing my whole life away. While making the thirty day Spiritual Exercises, my director suggested I try the ministry of the Exercises. In a flash, all those years I counted as nothing became pure gold in the one ministry that valued such interior journeys.
The difference between my old life and new was vividly revealed one night when I was praying in our chapel before Jesus nailed to his cross. Each day I kept asking for healing because I was full of pain, immobilized by chronic illness, powerless to shape my future, and feeling abandoned by my old dreams. I suddenly realized that the powerless Michael was standing before a powerless Jesus. In accepting my vulnerability with the vulnerable Jesus, a new and deep intimacy began to grow between us.
Not being able to walk far during my convalescence, I started to look at the stars. Later I joined an Astronomy club and have since built many telescopes. When I look at the stars, I never feel small and insignificant, as many people say they do, rather I feel immensely precious and blessed that the lights of the universe are a part of me, that my Creator could love me so much in creation itself. And I feel expansive.
Now I dream of spreading the First Spiritual Exercises as widely as possible and this seems to be God’s dream for me. I no longer need to make myself the center of my life. Like the Australian bush after wildfire, I just need to grow in God’s seasons, letting fresh new shoots grow directly from the blackened trunk.
My experience of the FSE and Field Hospital is one of gifts beyond imagining. It all began for me with an invitation and a title, ‘friendship with Jesus’. Oh, I’d like that, I thought, little knowing that this offering and acceptance would lead to the opportunity to become part of a growing community, across Australia and internationally, through this highly creative, contemporary rediscovery of the earliest form of the Spiritual Exercises, given by Ignatius and the First Companions on the roads of Europe to anyone of good will, many of whom in turn gave them to others.
I am a lay woman, married with three adult children. Based in Sydney, I work nationally, as coordinator of mission formation with Jesuit Ignatian Spirituality Australia (JISA). At the heart of this is being a spiritual director and giver of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in all their forms. I have worked for many years in the leadership and national ministry of the First Spiritual Exercises. This has led to extraordinary connections with people, ministries and communities across Australia and internationally. I have had the privilege of witnessing the power of the FSE and Field Hospital to bring us into the heart of the ministry of Jesus, freeing, healing and transforming individuals and groups, from Board room to prison cell.
I love this ministry and our way of proceeding; listening for the Spirit, not running ahead, learning from one another and our Receivers. We trust its organic unfolding, what takes us by surprise and leads us to fresh ways, not anticipated. Spiritual exercises and conversation shape everything we do and how we move forward. We try to stay close to the ‘supremely generous’ God whom Ignatius trusted, and to respond in creative, audacious and gentle ways – choosing the way of loving reverence and affectionate awe, which Ignatius calls acatamiento.
Ko Wharite te māunga My mountain is Wharite.
Ko Manawatu te awa My river is the Manawatu river.
Nō Te Papaioea ahau I live in Te Papaioea (Palmerston North, New Zealand).
Ko Murray Adams tōku ingoa My name is Murray Adams
Kia ora. I’m married, a pharmacist, an Ignatian Spiritual Director and a mobile giver of the Spiritual Exercises, First Spiritual Exercises (FSE), and Field Hospital Exercises (FHE).
I’m currently on the National Team of FSE, the Committee of Companions (in the Ministry if Ignatian Spiritual Exercises), and co leader of the Retreats Team in the Diocese of Palmerston North.
My ministry involves extensive travel around the lower half of the North Island of New Zealand, giving to individuals and groups; in rural towns, provincial cities, parish halls, parish churches, staff rooms, boardrooms, mountain lodges, workplaces and homes; giving in person, and via Zoom.
I stumbled upon FSE by chance in January 2014 and felt like Paul on the road to Damascus. Scales fell from my eyes, and I saw that FSE was the way forward for me to help others encounter God at a deeper level. I’m encouraged by the simple advice, “Let’s do the doable”, (FSE and FHE are very doable), and by Pope Francis… ‘to follow Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.’
Since making the Spiritual Exercises in 2014 I have viewed the world and my role in it differently. The world of pharmacy lost its flavour and the call to spiritual direction and giving the Spiritual Exercises has become tasty and stronger.
I was born in 1491 the youngest child of 12 children. My family were Basque nobles and in time I was send to King Ferdinand’s court to train as a courtier. Family fortunes at court fell and I ended up working for the Viceroy of Navarre – which is how I found myself besieged by the French army at Pamplona, bleeding and broken. The cannon ball that smashed my legs smashed all my dreams as well.
I have to say I was rather full of myself then, and after nearly dying in a French field hospital, I was carried back home and underwent surgery can only described as ‘butchery’. I nearly died but recovered, thanks to St Peter.
At the end of my life, I was chronically ill for many years and my friends in the Lord wanted me to write the story of my life, like other founders of religious orders. This smacked of vainglory to me. Eventually I realized it would be good to tell others how God dealt with my soul. The subject here is God’s action, not mine. This I can live with.
Considering you are at this little murmuration of companions, I would like to share two things. Both energized me and gave me direction in life. I am often portrayed as serious and stern, but when I receive great spiritual gifts or insights, I cannot help talking about the experience animatedly with anyone who would listen.
So with my conversion I had to talk to members of my household about what I was experiencing with God. These spiritual conversations with others I kept up all my life. My other two habits were keeping a spiritual journal in which I wrote my spiritual exercises and the movements of the spirits in me, and the spiritual exercises themselves, particularly praying with imaginative contemplation. For this is how I so completely fell in love with Jesus.
The other thing that inspired me and left me ablaze with the desire to serve the Lord was contemplating the stars. I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same, to open yourself to Jesus, to have large and audacious dreams.
Jesus of Nazareth
I was born just over two thousand years ago in the village of Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph, my parents, fled to Egypt with me as refugees fleeing violence. In time we returned and eventually I called some disciples and entered public life to share the good news of God’s promise for the future.
No doubt you know my story. Thinking about what I could say to you by way of introduction, one event stands out before all others, and it is not my death or resurrection. Ironically it was when I realized I could never do all I wanted to do by myself. I needed help then, as I do even now. So I called a number of my disciples together, gave them my mission and sent them out. That was scary. But the power of God went with them.
What made this sending special was how I sent them out. I sent them out in pairs, to have buddies for support, and asked them to take no backpack, staff or purse. They had to rely on the generosity of the villages they went to. And they were to give freely what they had received freely. No cost, no money, no big overheads, no long training sessions, no rule book – just the joy of the Gospel. This is how my ministry rippled out. Perhaps you could do this same after this little murmuration of companions.
What else? This does not get plainly said enough, but ‘I love you’.
I know what it is to live with darkness, pain and suffering. I know what healing is, what happens in field hospitals, and how the Light and warmth of the Spirit of God can dispel that darkness. Please know, I have always been with you. You are a good person, so do not do as many good people do, and shrug off my personal expression of love. Own it and enjoy it in every session of the coming murmuration, because I will there, and you are my delight.
Who knows, we could do some good stuff together. My bio includes you.
Givers of the Ignatian spiritual exercises,
guides of spiritual conversation,
and star gazers
As a teen, I started experiencing profound peace and joy in the daily mass and rosary. I would mark that time as the beginning of my faith journey.
I met other students in university who loved God but were not shy in expressing and sharing their faith. I joined their prayer group and I would be a member of the Catholic charismatic renewal movement in Manila for the next 25 years. I got married and raised two beautiful children in the community.
After leaving my beloved community to migrate to Sydney, I started yearning for a more contemplative spirituality. I got involved in my local parish ministries where I experienced Ignatian Spirituality. The last nine years the First Spiritual Exercises and Field Hospital Exercises have helped me to encounter God in a more intimate way by enabling me to bring in my own experiences into prayer and reflect on the constant presence and faithfulness of God in my own life story.
Through FSE/FHE I have found more meaning in sacred scripture, ancient prayers and the sacraments. Its simple structure has allowed me to continue to share God’s love to others regardless of their background in whatever setting or time of the year and I have been blessed to share in the graces received by others through the exercises.
In time I have found myself not only active in the Jesuit parish,‘Our Lady of the Way’, in North Sydney, but a member of the FSE Sydney Metro team, the FSE National Training Team, and the Christian Life Community of Australia.
Furthermore, I have found myself again in community, co-labouring with companions who delight in praying the exercises and in giving them to others in Sydney and beyond.
Debbie dela Paz
I am a teacher at a Catholic primary school in NSW and a member of the FSE Sydney Metro Team and National Training Team.
Since my training in 2013, I have always been open to invitations to offer the FSE in full or as tasters. I have given the FSE to friends, church groups, schools, and Ignatian groups. My experience of giving tasters and the full retreat has been quite extensive in Christian Life Community (a lay organisation rooted in Ignatian Spirituality), extending to CLC Philippines.
I have also been involved in the FSE-Tertian Program. I have offered the FH to friends, colleagues and my CLC groups since June 2020.
The FSE/FH ministry continues to be life-giving for me when I hear the stories shared during spiritual conversations. How the Spirit moves these people never fails to gently surprise me. Two statements have stayed with me through these years- “I never knew much about the Trinity, but now I feel its presence when I pray the exercises” and “The FH was a lifeline for me during the pandemic and it inspires me to share it with others who need it”. To be able to hold others in a scared space is the best gift of the ministry to me.
In the early years of my involvement in the ministry, there came a time when I was the sole member of the Sydney Metro Team. It was a year of discernment as to whether I had the time and energy to continue. Hard as it was going solo at regional meetings, the vibrancy of the other regions continued to fill me with hope for our region. I decided not to walk away and it’s been three years since and the ‘new’ Sydney Metro Team has laboured together.
I am a retired nurse, retired dancer/teacher, with two adult sons, mother-in-law and marriage celebrant.
In 2013 I joined a Jesuit outreach ministry, called Campion Spirituality Ministry. Our Ministry has been serving an aged care facility called Corpus Christi Community, in Greenvale Victoria. CCC, a home for alcoholic/ homeless/marginalized and broken men, founded by (St) Mother Teresa of Calcutta, opened in 1975. For several years now I been the team’s coordinator.
I completed my training as a FSE Giver the same year I joined the ministry and in 2015 joined the FSE Victorian Regional Team as team leader. My journey as a Giver of the FSE and the Field Hospital Exercises has been wonderful and extensive. I have been blessed with the privilege of giving retreats and tasters in avast range of places, e.g. aged care facilities, parishes, bookshops, and on zoom, reaching out nationally and internationally.
Training to train others to be FSE Givers has been a humbling experience and again a privilege. I continue to mature with the on going transforming process of the FSE and I love being a Giver. Mostly I love Giving the Exercises to the men at Corpus Christi Community.
I answered God’s call to go and experience the margins as a place of grace and to nurture the spirit of the men who carry more openly what we hide from in ourselves as individuals, and as a society. What I have discovered as a listening, nurturing and quiet presence in their darkness is, that God is present, and the Spirit’s love ripples through our shared brokenness.
Days of Pain
I am married to Peter and have a daughter Rebecca. I am a retired teacher who lives in Melbourne.
I joined the staff at Xavier College in Australia in 2003 and was inducted into Ignatian Formation. This in turn led me to do the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life in 2008 at Campion Spirituality Centre in Kew. In time, after receiving the FSE, I was given the opportunity to train to be a Giver of the FSE.
I feel called to this ministry after experiencing many graces from past retreats, from meeting inspiring and Spirit filled people, and from knowing that many people are hungering for spiritual conversations and sacred listening. My volunteer work with Interfaith Networks and Stillness Meditation Therapy sessions, with people experiencing anxiety and stress, complements the companioning work of the FSE ministry.
I am now a giver of the First Spiritual Exercises and God’s Field Hospital Exercises and I belong to the Victorian FSE Regional Team and the FSE National Training Team. With buddies, Annmaree Sutton and Anne Slingo, I have given FSE Tasters and Retreats to staff members, various parish groups and interfaith groups at Garratt Publishing. I have been a mentor to others wishing to be Givers of the FSE and that has been an enriching and a humbling experience.
My own faith journey and life experiences as a child refugee, migrant, teacher, wife, mother and friend to many in my neighborhood have all contributed to my call to be a Giver of FSE/FHE and to share the retreat ‘Inner Peace in Divine Love’ as a companion and follower of Jesus in the Ignatian way.
Michael Ryan SJ
I am presently looking after the interests of JISA-Campion in Melbourne, my home town.
For the majority of my years as a Jesuit, my ministry has been the Society’s educational apostolate, though the last 12 years have seen my appointment to three of our Ignatian spirituality centres.
Before that I had been on the staff of four of the Jesuit schools over 30 years. I served there at times as a teacher, principal and rector. In 2010 I was given a sabbatical spending most of it in Ignatian formation for adults.
This was a turning point in my life, and it was enhanced by being in the same community as Michael Hansen who was very much involved in the creation of the ‘Light Spiritual Exercises’, the forerunner of the First Spiritual Exercises.
I see myself very fortunate to have been introduced to this method of prayer. Over the years of involvement with FSE, perhaps the most satisfying experiences have been to accompany busy teachers taking on the four ‘Inner Peace’ retreats of the FSE.
With the onset of COVID and the expansion of our JISA-FSE online ministry, I have been recording the First Spiritual Exercicses and Field Hospital Exercises and putting them online so we can reach many people across the while country.
Antonius Sumarwan SJ
I am a Jesuit from the Indonesian Province. I pursued a PhD in the School of Accountancy, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, and stayed in St Ignatius Parish, Toowong in the last five years. After finishing my study, I returned to Indonesia in the middle of January 2022, and now I am holding a position as a lecturer at Sanata Dharma University, a Jesuit university.
During my tertianship in 2015, I learned The First Spiritual Exercises from Michael Hansen, Frances, and Felicity through a short workshop. Then I gave the first module of the FSE, Inner Peace in Divine Love, to some parishioners of St Laurence O’Toole Parish, Forbes, NSW. At this time, I also translated this module into Bahasa Indonesian and gave it remotely to some of my friends in Jakarta.
I heard, saw, and experienced abundant graces received by the FSE receivers. I was also convinced that the FSE is an effective tool for introducing Ignatian spirituality to laypeople. So, after that, every year, I gave the FSE to several small groups that I could reach.
More than one thousand people have been healed and experienced God’s love profoundly by doing the FSE with us. They also benefited from learning how to pray, reflect on prayer experience, discern the movements of their heart, and engage in spiritual conversations. Now we are preparing Season 7 of this online FSE.
Dreaming With God
I am married with two children living in Perth, Western Australia. I have been co-leading the First Spiritual Exercises with Jesuit Tertians in parishes around Perth and Bunbury over the last seven years. I have given the FSE retreats individually to people seeking a retreat experience as part of Spiritual Direction.
I find that for people not used to this style of praying they gradually overcome the barriers to using their imagination and they get many graces from spiritual conversation with others.
Being part of an older generation that was brought up on the fear of God the Spiritual Exercises have helped me accept the love of God with greater freedom. My own personal vocation centres around coaching individuals who are caught in an emotion wilderness. The FSE is one way I use for dealing with aspects of negative feelings or self images.
I am single, and live in Perth, Western Australia, having moved from Sydney 20 years ago for work opportunities. I have a background in social welfare, particularly in the field of out-of-home care for children in need. I am hoping this year to complete a PhD dissertation on therapeutic foster care. I am currently the WA co-ordinator of our three-member regional team.
In 2015, I undertook training to deliver the FSEs at Canisius College, Pymble. Since doing so, I have delivered individual FSE retreats and tasters with co-workers to parish groups and CLC groups.
What I like most about the FSE ministry is the positive feedback receivers provide at the end of an FSE retreat, which includes having a greater connection to God through the person of Jesus, and discovering different ways to pray, such as the Awareness Examen. Some receivers spoke of the FSE retreat as their first experience of having a deep relationship with God, and how they can bring this into their life journey.
While giving an FSE retreat, I also undertake the retreat, which provides me on each occasion a different experience, which furthers my spiritual journey. As a giver and receiver of the FSE’s, my faith journey has been enriched spiritually, as I am now more conscious of seeing God in all things, and how I can manifest this in my interactions with people and the wider creation. Through the Ignatian principles of discernment, the FSEs have also provided me with practical tools in making decisions in my life journey.
I find that an interesting FSE Giver is one who can help receivers to use elements of the FSEs to enrich the spiritual dimension of their personal life journey.
Rachel McLoughlin IBVM
I am a Loreto sister living in a community in Sydney Australia. I was on the National Formation Team as the Field Hospital Spiritual Exercises were developed and shared widely, and I have been very privileged to work closely with Michael Hansen SJ as he developed the First Spiritual Exercises retreats over ten years ago.
I have given the FSE and Field Hospital Exercises extensively. I am a spiritual director and offer supervision to spiritual directors in formation.
I am also a physiotherapist and have found the FSE and Field Hospital exercises deeply healing. It has been so important in the last two years during the pandemic to be able to offer these wonderful exercises to health leaders in mission and pastoral care as well as leaders in our parishes.
It is exciting to know that they in turn are sharing the fruits of these exercises as well as the exercises themselves. They have provided inner peace, healing and hope in so many areas of need.
Depthing connection to the spirit through our bodies as we are invited to attend to all the senses is often at the heart of the matter when I listen to the wonder of God’s healing love in receivers as they share their FSE and Field Hospital Exercises prayer in spiritual conversation.
I am married to Jason with three grown-up children, Patrick, Madeleine and Katrina. I work in the ministry of education, at Xavier College, Melbourne, Australia and in the ministry of the First Spiritual Exercises.
Since I trained as a giver of the First Spiritual Exercises, I have offered them in my parish, to my colleagues, in the Province Formation program and to students. In the parish, a fellow giver, Sr Mary O’Shannessy and I offer a retreat during Lent, although COVID has got in the way of this in the last two years. During lockdown, I offered the Field Hospital exercises to colleagues at Xavier. We were also joined by people from St Aloysius’, Milson’s Point – the joy of being able to gather online!
The most life-giving experience I have had in giving is with year 12 students, who undertake a ‘retreat in daily life’ for approximately 12 sessions. I always begin with the first contemplation ‘I am loved’ but thereafter, pray over the choice taking into consideration the context of the cohort with whom I’m working. It is such a privilege to work with these beautiful boys in their last year in our care, and to share with them something of an Ignatian ‘toolbox’ that might sustain them post-school.
As a long-time collaborator in the Ignatian ministry, the First Spiritual Exercises work has been such a gift. It led me to apply to attend the Ignatian Immersion in Manresa, Spain, in 2017, a six-week course studying with the Jesuits. Although I had previously visited Ignatian places, I completely underestimated the strength of staying in one place, over the Cova where Ignatius spent 11 months and going deeper in the Ignatian story.
Being in situ at this place was incredible enough – but I was then taken on a journey, personally and communally, interiorly and externally, that was life-changing. Accompanied by Ignatius and each other, we drew deeper in our personal relationship with God.
Enoch Choy SJ
I am a Jesuit living in Sydney. I give retreats and spiritual direction at JISA (Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia), participate in the ministry of FSE/FH on various levels, and serve refugees with the NCCA (National Council of Churches in Australia).
I was strongly attracted to Ignatian Spirituality in the 1980s while serving as a Protestant pastor and university lecturer. When doing my first 30 day-retreat in 2000, I had his cannonball moment – moved to tears as I reviewed God’s graces in my life, including being saved from drowning and miraculously healed of a broken ankle. I became a Catholic and eventually joined the Jesuits.
I find the Spiritual Exercises to be life-transforming. Inspired by the quest for more authentic life and feeling called to love and be loved, I try to share this with the people I serve. The great Ignatian contemplations, the “Principle and Foundation” and the “Contemplation to Attain Love” are special exercises I love to share. I also find the FSE/FH very practical and versatile. There is certainly beauty in “returning to the basics”.
I am also fascinated with St. Ignatius’ expansive vision and magnanimity of heart, especially in “seeking and finding God in all things”. Inspired by Ignatius, I have attempted to seek God in a range of experience, including living in a Mexican slum, fleeing from an erupting volcano, lobbying politicians with the Yale Political Union, collaborating with UN agencies, participating in a peace march at Nevada Nuclear Test Site, and serving the First Nations people.
Recently, I attempted to integrate some aspects of Ignatian spirituality with creative arts, particularly visual arts, music, poetry and story-telling, as well as with activities like cooking, gardening and practicing martial arts. It is really a privilege and delight to be involved with the ministry of JISA, including the IM22. May the Lord greatly bless them most abundantly.
I am married with two adult children. I retired from professional life in 2016 and now work as a ‘Spiritual Director’, and ‘Giver’ of all forms of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises as part of the JISA Faber – Brisbane community. I am also a ‘Trainer’ of ‘Givers’ of the First Spiritual Exercises and Spiritual Field Hospital Exercises as part of the Spiritual Exercises National Training Team. The other key area of my ministry is as a ‘Presenter’ within the menALIVE Ministry Team. This is working to bring men to embrace a life lived as Jesus as the man God created them to be rather than the man, they or others desire for them, past, present or future.
The thing I love about the FSE ministry is that it gives me an opportunity to be God’s guiding hands in the up-lifting and conversion of people by God. So, to live graced and contemplative lives knowing, loving and serving the Christ in all peoples and creation.
My conversion came out of an increasing disquiet as to the pathway on which I found myself. I worked in a ‘win at all cost’ corporate life and had a growing desire for more than just ‘doing’ in my relationship with God. In a dramatic experience of conversion at the foot of the cross on Calvary as part of the ‘Lite Spiritual Exercise’ directed by Sr Delphine O’Shea, I asked Jesus ‘why?’ Since then, I have only ever wanted to ‘be’ for Jesus.
I feel that what makes me interesting as a FSE ‘Giver’ is my overflowing life experience lived in both desolation and consolation, and as a manALIVE; redeemed; restored and released to bring God’s love to his world.
Night of Vigil
Anne Taylor RSC
About forty years ago I joined the Sisters of Charity Australia, an Ignatian congregation, and so began my Ignatian journey. Our formation, prayer life and general way of living were informed by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. My ministry has always been in education – including being the foundation principal of a school in the Ignatian Tradition. Today I am the College Companion at a boarding and day school in Sydney – walking with people on their daily journey.
I began my training and work with the First Spiritual Exercises (FSE) in 2013 and have had the opportunity to give the FSE and the Field Hospital Exercises (FHE) in parishes, with senior school students, school staff, parents and people seeking ‘more’ for their lives. I belong to the Sydney Metro group FSE Regional Team and the FSE National Training Team. A most joyful experience was giving the FSE and then being part of the training for a group of Filipinos.
The Ignatian Exercises are available to all and I enjoy giving them widely. A person’s lived experience is so central to the exercises and this grounds them in reality. Yet, the ministry is organic and you never know how God will deal with your Receiver. I am merely the Giver helping the person to be open to God and it is simply amazing to see how God works in them.
I often finds myself saying, ‘Let God be God’ and try not to worry about things, about what will be or not be. In my calmer moments I realise God has all in hand and really wants the best for me. This simple but profound truth flows through me as a Giver of the exercises. God has such an incredible love and desire for me to live in freedom, and this desire lies at the heart of the FSE and FHE. So God and I work through the exercises in synergy with the Receiver. Put another way, what I love about being a Giver is that each exercise holds me in relationship with myself, God, and the receiver – a blessing that orientates my life in every way.
I live in Adelaide, South Australia and have been involved in Ignatian Spirituality for over 20 years. Being a Giver of the 18th and 19th Annotations’ of The Spiritual Exercises, the First and the Full Exercises, is a precious gift. Giving the Exercises continually fills me with awe and wonder.
I have been privileged to witness lives altered by the Exercises and am grateful for my ‘Friends in the Lord’ that introduced me to the Exercises and journey with me in this incredibly important ministry.
Among the many paths that this journey has taken me was the one that brought me to the First Spiritual Exercises. After giving them in a variety of ways, I became the leader of the South Australian Regional FSE Team, and later, for many years a member of the FSE National Team. It has been a delight to listen to the Spirit and help shape this ministry with both those teams of generous volunteers.
Working creatively, I have explored new ways to bring the Exercises out into the world, tried to make the Exercises a part of the parish community, and written a catechetical program using the Exercises with children. Out in the world, within local communities and teaching the faith to children were all places Iñigo loved to be. In these places I am continually inspired by him.
Having been a presenter at The International Symposium on Psychology and Spiritual Exercises at Loyola, Spain in 2019, I was struck by how important it is to be a woman in this ministry. Living in Australia we have come to think that a woman giving the Exercises is commonplace. While at the Symposium I came to understand that European women thought it impossible that they may ever be in a position to give the Exercises.
The First Spiritual Exercises are breaking new ground in more ways than what we will ever know.
I live in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. I am the mother of two adult sons. My favourite things include regular fitness exercise, creating art, having tea and meaningful conversations with friends and walking my dogs. Retired from a profession in healthcare, I serve as a spiritual companion with Maranatha House of Prayer in Malaysia. In 2021 I completed training as a Giver of the First Spiritual Exercises and also have experience in the Field Hospital exercises.
My first introduction to Ignatian spirituality came through making the 19th Annotation Exercises, 20 years ago. I found myself attracted to the deeply formative spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola. Through the years Ignatian spirituality has contributed to my formation in the Lord. As providence would have it, Maranatha, an Ignatian retreat house was established in 2004 in Malaysia. There I met Fr Michael Hansen SJ in 2008, when he gave a retreat “Finding God in Chronic Illness”. I also live with a chronic illness so experienced a God who uses weakness and vulnerability to draw a seeker to greater intimacy. I have since found a spiritual home in the Ignatian tradition, and am always hopeful I can ‘seek and find God in all things’.
I find the FSE is a real gift as it helps individuals who may have no prior Ignatian prayer experience to connect with God quite naturally and deeply. Both as a Giver and Receiver of the FSE, I am always gratefully surprised at the deep level of conversion these simple exercises facilitate. I have also profitably given individual FSE exercises to retreatants during directed retreats.
A thread through my life has been creating compassionate listening spaces in which people who seek greater depth in their life of faith can pause and ‘find God’. It is a real joy and privilege to be called to this particular task in the Lord’s vineyard.
Spirit of Progress
I am the wife of David and mother of Etienne, Xavier and Luc. I work for Jesuit Social Services as Manager of School and Community Engagement, situated on the Jesuit Holy Family Parish site in Mount Druitt, New South Wales. I offer reflective experiences with students, teachers and young adults before, during and after they volunteer on the site.
During the last two COVID lockdowns, I co-facilitated ‘The Long Walk Retreat’, a 4-week online contemplative in action retreat, penned by Andrew Hamilton SJ, based on the Spiritual Exercises for Jesuit Social Services staff. I have also offered FSE and Field Hospital experiences with adults and young adults in parish and diocesan contexts.
I am in awe of how the Ignatian exercises, FSE and Field Hospital can penetrate the human heart in a tender and yet firm, loving manner, that is deeply respectful and of one’s own choosing. The Ignatian spiritual tools provide a myriad of opportunities for people to go within, wander and in time, develop and strengthen a desire for more reflection, more peace, more healing, more…
I was drawn to engaging in Ignatian spiritual experiences because of the freedom they offer to trust how the Spirit of God can process, infuse and transform my innermost self; so that I can give, receive, serve and accompany lightly, lovingly.
I aim to create a warm, welcoming and relaxing environment where people can enter into stillness, as well as experience the playful, curious dynamic search for the pulse of God within and in the fabric of their lives. That is my growing joy.
I am a spiritual director, giver of the Spiritual Exercises, psychotherapist, wife, and most of all, mother of 12 year old boy girl twins, my favourite role of all. Living in Sydney Australia near the bush and beach, I find solace and inspiration from expansive water, the constancy of waves and the company of eucalypts that grow on my doorstep.
I have been immersed in Ignatian Spirituality and the Australian Ignatian community all my adult life and been transformed by the Spiritual Exercises.
I first made the Exercises in daily life nearly 20 years ago. My most profound experience of living the Exercises was in befriending darkness. I moved from the darkness of attachments and dependence, through the darkness of grief and depression, and into an eternal darkness of surrender, acceptance, and freedom.
Part of this journey occurred during the third week in an encounter with Jesus’ passion; experiencing these successive circles of darkness and how paradoxically I had God’s uncompromising and tremendous love. I will never forget this. I have remembered it, contemplated it, written about it, painted it, and loved it. And it has formed the core of my vocation and ministry.
I work with Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia in looking after the ministry of the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian retreats Australia wide. And for the last six months, I have really enjoyed supporting the IM22 Organising Team to bring IM22 to fruition!
I live in Sydney, Australia. I am blessed to serve as the CEO of Jesuit Mission Australia, an Australian Jesuit ministry, that partners with Jesuit organisations around the world to empower women, men and children living on the margins to liberate themselves from poverty and injustice. I am also a long-time parishioner of the Jesuit parish in North Sydney and am the doting and active aunt of three young nieces.
A few years ago, Jesuit Mission was inspired by the call of the Universal Apostolic Preference to ‘Show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and Discernment’.
Yet, as a team we were challenged how to respond. We know how to raise funds for community development projects overseas but we are not experts in Ignatian spirituality; nor givers of the Exercises…….
Through an exciting collaboration with the First Spiritual Exercises team, Jesuit Mission now has a well-spring of more than 160 spiritual exercises and Sign of the Cross Prayers that draw on key themes of our work.
The planned ‘One Spirit, Moving Hearts’ program will enable Jesuit Mission to invite staff, volunteers, benefactors, overseas partners and project participants to participate in a shared prayer, story-telling and relationship. In sharing stories and prayer, each person will experience the Jesuit Mission ministry in a very new way.
Earlier this year, I completed the Exercises in Daily life. It was a profound journey that led me to better understand Jesus’ life and ministry and deepen my relationship with him. The Exercises affirmed my desire to follow in Jesus’ footsteps of bringing good news to the poor through my ministry work at Jesuit Mission.
I am one of the spiritual directors at the JISA Faber Centre in Qld. Ignatian Spirituality opened up for me in 2006, when, at one of the lowest points in my life, I stumbled across the Spiritual Exercises Retreat in Daily Life. The journey of the Spiritual Exercises completely transformed my darkness into a place of hope and led me on a new journey in life.
I have never looked back from that initial experience of the Full Spiritual Exercises, and over the years have come to realise the value of other ways of experiencing the Exercises, all of which offer conversion, transformation, and a deepening of faith, hope and love.
The First Spiritual Exercises and the Spiritual Field Hospital Exercises are an invaluable part of the Ignatian Ministry in Qld. We have taken them to schools, used them in retreats, in the formation of teachers, with seminarians in their training, shared them as monthly meditations and taken them to remote areas in Qld. In all these spaces, they bring new energy, healing, and life.
They are an excellent and contemporary way of engaging Ignatian Spirituality through the experience of the senses, desires, personal life stories, scripture, and a challenge to action in the world. I have so often seen an awakened sense of respect for others and community in the sharing of personal stories in these Exercises. I had an experience of this sense of community, in a remote Queensland town, where members of a Charismatic Prayer group who thought they knew each other well, found that sharing their personal stories through the Field Hospital Exercises, took their community to a much deeper, more intimate level.
Perhaps one of the most personal and tender spaces that I have experienced the transforming power of the First Spiritual Exercises and the Field Hospital Exercises is in giving silent, directed retreats. In the most sensitive spaces where woundedness, pain and suffering are raw, in those dark places where there are no words, I find that there is so often an Exercise that leads to healing and wholeness. The Spirit is certainly at work through the First and Field Hospital Spiritual Exercises, like a stone thrown into the pond, the ripples continue to go far and wide!
I am a member of the Faber team in Brisbane, as is my husband Peter. I am a retired teacher, a mother and a grandmother. I have had the privilege of giving the First Spiritual Exercises and the Field Hospital Exercises in group settings at the Faber Centre, and occasionally at our parish.
I am grateful for the experience in the last two years of giving the Full Spiritual Exercises. This has been a rich experience for me. I have also travelled with other Faber team members to both Blackwater and Cairns last year to give First Spiritual Exercises and Field Hospital Exercises, as well as giving the Field Hospital Exercises on Saturday Quiet Mornings at the Faber Centre. Last year I also worked with the members of the National Training Team to train givers to give the First Spiritual Exercises and the Field Hospital Exercises. This training was done entirely on Zoom, which was challenging at first but also opened our minds to a whole new way of reaching those in far-flung areas of our state.
This ministry has enabled me to witness the movement of the Holy Spirit in others’ lives, transforming them in ways they may never have imagined. It is a gentle yet life-changing form of prayer, bringing peace and hope.
The exercises have provided me with a ready source of reflection. They cause me to remember past life stories, to reflect using scripture passages, to call on the Holy Spirit to be present in the messiness of my everyday life. This has been greatly enriched by being able to share these exercises with others.
My aim is to provide a quiet time for the person to receive the exercises. I try to listen attentively and provide the warmth to enable them to feel comfortable to engage in spiritual conversation, in a confidential setting. This is my blessing.
I am married with eight adult children and a growing clan of grandchildren and great-grandchildren! I belong to the JISA-Faber community in Brisbane. My ministry involves giving the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian retreats, spiritual direction and formation of staff in schools. I have been praying and giving the FSE since their creation by Michael Hansen SJ. I participated in the early trials and have been giving the FSE ever since, both in groups and individually. The FHE were an invaluable adaptation of the FSE in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. I have also been giving the Full Spiritual Exercises for thirty years.
What I love about this ministry is its fresh approach yet fidelity to the traditional Exercises. People seem surprised and delighted to discover how their own story can be aligned with Jesus’ story, confirming Ignatius’ conviction that God desires a personal relationship with us which can transform our daily lives. I recall an elderly religious asking me to give her a retreat. She warned me she was well versed in giving retreats herself and knew all the “tricks of the trade”! What could I possibly give her that was new?
I settled on FSE – Inner Peace and Friendship with Jesus. This retreat caught her beautifully off guard and she moved from dutiful servant to intimate friend of Jesus. Several weeks later she was diagnosed with a terminal illness! From her hospital bed she declared, “I am not afraid of dying. I now know Jesus as my friend!”
My own interior life deepened with the Full Spiritual Exercises. The FSE continued the process and empowered me to move from an intensely personal but private expression of faith to a sharing of experiences with others. Graces and insights are shared, growing bonds of spiritual friendship.
Besides the obvious prayer, I enjoy the conversations that emerge from these exercises. People can share their life experiences and faith journey in a safe and respectful context. I love listening to these stories. Where else do we engage in such authentic and mutually enriching conversations?
Days of Light
I’m married to Owen and I live in the North Island of New Zealand. In a former life I was a reference librarian in an academic library. I have been a spiritual director and giver of the First Spiritual Exercises for eight years, and the Field Hospital exercises for the past couple of years.
I have given the First Spiritual Exercises and Field Hospital Exercises, face-to-face and by Zoom, to groups ranging from two people to thirty five people, in a variety of locations and settings throughout the North Island of New Zealand, with retreats lasting anything from one hour to one month.
I am constantly amazed at the ways in which the simple and everyday real contexts of the prayer exercises reach into the experiences of ordinary receivers in quite extraordinary ways. But the heart of it lies in the spiritual conversation where the sharing provides a doorway to an awareness of encounter with the living God.
As a giver I receive access to a wide range of ready-made exercises with their own built-in Ignatian dynamic which I can choose from to match the contexts and needs of my receivers. This gives me a certain confidence and freedom to focus on how to give rather than on what to give.
If I were to sum up my experience of giving the FSEs and FHEs, it would be in these words, “I’ve been waiting all my life for this.”
Hola, people know me as Gaby, mum, amiga, friend, Gabs but my name is Gabriela Grimaldo Arreguin (the one and only)
Region: World Wide, at the current moment New Zealand.
Ministry: International team of First Spiritual Exercises.
I was fourteen years old when I started studying at a school by Jesuits, aside from the fact that I was new to the city of Leon, in Mexico. It was one of the best things that happened to me because, for the first time, I was allowed to ask questions about God explore my curiosity of what Spirituality meant to me.
Spirituality is part of our essence as humans. You can’t alienate. Even if you deny that it’s connection with kindness and love, it can be essential just for your physical and mental wellbeing.
I live the FSE ministry as a playground because, like children, you experience the spirit and love over and over through different scenarios, places and people. Like kids living fully in the present moment, feeling the love or joy. That is your spiritual compass that links to your passion and wellbeing.
I love contemplation in Action and Discernment. Those are a core part of who I am. I am that person who will ask and make you uncomfortable with simple questions because I know that recognising where you are is part of the healing, even is if it is painful or sad, not everything is about joy. Still, those moments allow you to be alive and completely raw. Those glimpses are what Spirituality is. That is what makes this Ministry beautiful.
My Ministry is with my family forming tiny humans fully into their humanity. And I have also been a member of the FSE National team. That brings my dream to life, sharing what I consider the best tool I will ever have and need ‘Discernment through the Ignatian First Spiritual Exercises’.
Nick and Fran Hansen
Fran and I form part of the lay community that runs a retreat house in Carcoar, NSW. The Retreat house is owned by the Catholic Church and is called Shalom House of Prayer. It was established by lay volunteers like ourselves 50 years ago. We felt called to the house some 11 years ago. The ethos of the house one of prayer and hospitality. Anyone of any faith, or none, can come to our retreats or just have some quite time with the Lord.
We run a number of different types retreats from Men’s and Women’s specific retreats, prayer days, Camino Walks and private retreats. All our retreats are centred around the FSE. We use a number of different FSE exercises on different retreats. We also have a weekly men’s prayer zoom meeting where we often use the Field Hospital Exercises.
One of the things we love about the FSE is that it does not matter who we are giving a retreat to be it Ministers, Priests, someone who is not a church goer or someone who is struggling with their faith we always find that the Spirit meets the person where they are at in the FSE. We do not have anything special but present them and give the Spirit the opportunity to touch the receiver.
There has been so many times we are blown away by the impact of the FSE has had on some of the receivers. On one 3 Day retreat for Anglican ministers we saw the Spirit reignite them. A number said the retreat had given them back the enthusiasm and love for their ministry that had when they were called to it.
On a personal note it does not matter how many times we do the same exercise we always find that the Spirit takes us to a different place each time. We are very honoured to give and share this FSE with all of you and pray that the Spirit touches you and maybe reignites your enthusiasm and love for your ministry, whatever that might be.
I am married to John. Our son Aaron and his wife Amy have two girls Harriett (7) and Matilda (6) and our daughter Samantha and son-in-law Michael have little Amelia 8 months old.
For the past 10 years I have worked at the Jesuit Provincial office with roles including Delegate for Education and Social Ministries. I am currently the formation and education officer for Jesuit Education Australia and have been seconded to work part time with the mission formation team.
My background is in secondary education, working in Catholic schools in Sydney for nearly 30 years mostly in executive positions. I was Director of Religious Formation at Saint Ignatius’ College Riverview for 10 years where I became much more involved with Ignatian Spirituality.
I have been led through the Spiritual Exercises and engage regularly with retreats in daily life and the FSE. Making the ordinary sacred is of deep importance to me and I find the skills and experiences I have with Ignatian spiritualty helps me achieve this. Sharing this with others inspires me.
Brendan Kelly SJ
I am a Jesuit living in the Sadler House Jesuit Community at Sevenhill in South Australia. I am leader of the community here and work across a synergy of Sevenhill ministries involving parish, spirituality centre and winery. I am both a giver of retreats and a spiritual accompanier.
Over many years to the present, I have given the full Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and all its variants, including FSE, mainly to educators and those in consecrated life. During the past twelve years I have increasingly given Ignatian spiritual exercises to parishioners. I currently introduce interested retreatants at our retreat centre to both the FSE and the FHE.
I first became interested in the FSE when I prayed the prayer ‘The Spirit Hovers Over Creation’ from the book of FSE. Though couched in a clear and commonplace Ignatian prayer structure, I experienced, through the imagination, a real awakening and engagement with the working of the Spirit in creation and in me. The prayer appealed in its contemporary setting, respectful of the evolutionary process of creation, and illuminating the power and the presence of the Spirit working in and through all.
This first experience of praying the FSE led me to further and deeper praying of other FSE exercises which eventually led to praying the series of four retreats that compose the FSE book. Through prayer and reflection with others, I gradually realized that the treasured gift and grace of the FSE was how easily they could help people engage prayerfully and attentively with their experience. This I wanted to share. I wanted others to experience the unique and distinctive presence of the Spirit in their own experience. The FSE is a way of praying that facilitates this.
In the beginning, Ignatius had little to rely on – no theology, no honed discernment skills, no substantial learning in the spiritual life. All he had was his experience, which under the guidance of the Spirit, and after a cannon ball to his leg literally stopped him in his tracks, he gradually reflected upon and went from being a narrow-eyed person seduced by honour, fame and glory, to a wide-eyed person imbued with an active spirituality that ardently sought and found God in all things.
The FSE, to my mind, do not presume much – only a heart, like that of Ignatius, that is open and generous in embracing one’s experience to find and celebrate God’s Spirit. They are risky certainly when undertaken, as is any engagement with the realm of intimacy. As I have found in my own experience and that of others they can and do, nonetheless, lead to fuller life.
I have been married to Brian for 57 years. We have two children and five grandchildren whom I am very close to and I am very grateful for the love I receive from them, and the importance I am in each of their lives.
I graduated as a spiritual Director in 2000 from the Sydney centre of religious development and later under the guidance of Father Tom O’Hara SJ I was formed in and given a certificate in giving the Spiritual exercises mainly over 30 weeks.
In my early forties, although I was very busy working with my husband in a newsagency, one Saturday afternoon at home a light was shining through my window in hallway and it pulled me up. I had a strong sense that there had to be “More”. Everything that I was doing seemed to be done. My children in their late teens were out and my husband was playing golf. I stayed with that sense of “More” and eventually I did a Parish Ministry Course in Adult Education. During that time we were asked to choose a ministry we could work with in the course and eventually take it to our parish.
When the director of the course said, “Don’t just chose something that someone said you would be good at. What is it that you may have always wanted to do but never knew how you could possibly do it” Then he said “what’s in your gut” and I knew. I wanted to help the underdog. As a child I had always been concerned for people who were in prison. I pondered a lot how anyone could possibly cope with all that inner turmoil they would be experiencing. Eventually and with that sense of the More guiding me I became a Prison Chaplain 25 years ago and still there today.
I have given retreats in daily life and the FSE in parishes and in the prison. During Covid when I heard that Pope Francis says that the World should be a Field Hospital I was grateful to receive these exercises weekly and hand out over a hundred each week to inmates who were in lockdown due to Covid. Inmates who were sharing a cell gave and received from each other. I have been following this process each week for the last two years.
Chiara Von Perger Mona Redito
Chiara Von Perger
I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I work part time as a physiotherapist. I live in Perth with my husband Dean and 3 children. We have a dog and 2 cats. I also have a 95-year-old mother who lives not far away. We live near the ocean and I swim most mornings. I love to escape suburbia and walk in nature!
I have been a member of CLC for the past 20+ years and recently was the chairperson for the WA CLC.
I was introduced to the FSE in 2013 when I was invited to go to Melbourne to do some training with Michael Hansen. Since then I have been offering the FSE retreats to various groups and parishes for the past 8 years.
The FSE has been a wonderful experience for me to develop my own awareness of God in so many aspects of my life and I see it mirrored in the responses of many who have come and done these retreats over time. The depth that can be achieved in such a short time with a prayer exercise is amazing and I believe the group sharing of the experiences is a wonderful way for people to deepen their own experiences.
It certainly has enriched my understanding of Gods action in my own life.
I am married and mother to two teenagers. I have a Human Resource professional background and am currently working in Parish administration.
I was first introduced to FSE when Michael Hansen launched his FSE Book in 2013, and received training from him to become a giver. It was that time when I was involved in various Parish ministries. My involvement in FSE gave me an opportunity to re-charge from the busyness of family life and at the same time to share the Ignatian spirituality to in the home.
From there, I have been invited to be part of the Sydney Metro Team offering FSE ‘tasters’ and retreats in various parishes, RCIA candidates and CLC in the Philippines. Mailing out Field Hospital Prayer to friends and colleagues is a regular thing for me to do.
The FSE ministry gives me joy to see how the word of God speaks in the quiet and conversations which leads to a single message of encouragement and peace. While we all share the same intimacy with Jesus, we each have our own unique relationship with him.
Like the curiosity of the Woman in the well (Jn 4:4-42) my thirst for deepening my spirituality was quenched by the hope and living water which refreshes. That is who Jesus is for me, and what I have received, I desire to offer to others.
Conversation and listening is key element of the FSE, which I both enjoy. I think that it is never a waste of time to pause, be quiet, and have a conversation to share your faith journey. I have a passion for sharing the love of Christ with those who are seeking it, and I have a thirst for helping moms and women grow in character and faith.
Gracelyn Vega (Chair) Debbie dela Paz Anne Taylor
Mona Redito Marg Strobl
I have four children, three of whom live overseas, and five grandchildren. I am very blessed to be close to all my children. My husband died in 2015 after a long illness and since then, before Covid, I have spent a considerable time travelling to visit the children and their families. Soon after I married we moved abroad and spent 17 years in various countries before returning to Sydney. Before retirement I worked as a teacher but I have always practised art, originally painting, and now ceramics.
From an early age I have felt a sense of God in the Natural World around me. The wonder and beauty of creation has inspired, and also intimidated, my work as an artist.
Today I am a member of the Sydney Metro Team of Givers of the FSE. Since 2013 our Sydney Metro Team has been able to give a number of retreats in parishes and to groups that approached us interested in having an experience of an FSE retreat or a “Taster” of FSE exercises.
Before becoming a Giver I was fortunate to receive a retreat and discover the deep transformation possible through imagination and meditation during the Exercises. They provide an opportunity for experiencing another dimension, a tangible, overwhelming sense of God’s love.
After this, apart from wanting others to have an opportunity for this experience, my particular attraction to the FSE was the personal nature of the prayer. It is between the Receiver and the Father, Jesus and/or the Spirit. The Giver becomes merely the facilitator or conduit. I have found it is wonderfully liberating to ask and trust the Spirit to be the inspiration and guide while giving an Exercise.
Michael Hansen SJ (Chair) Frances Tilly Murray Adams
Brendan Kelly SJ
Event Secretary: Sharyn Price
Event Publicity and Finances: Robyn Wunder
Event Co-ordinator: Danielle Achikian – Danielle Achikian Consulting
Event Platform: EventFrog
I live in Brisbane with my husband and our two teenage children. I work part time as the First Spiritual Exercise Ministry assistant. Although I’m located in Brisbane almost 1000kms from Michael Hansen in Sydney, the amazing online technology of today enables us to work ‘virtually’ side by side.
In 2021, I jumped at the opportunity to join the FSE team as a natural progression from my previous role providing admin support to a team of 25 Ignatian spiritual directors at JISA-Faber here in Brisbane.
In 2015, it was at JISA Faber that I had my first contact with First Spiritual Exercises Ministry. At the time I was a stay-at-home mum pondering life’s most basic questions, how do I cope day to day, how can I contribute to the world around me? I saw a little ad for the Inner Peace in Divine Love First Spiritual Exercises Retreat and signed up. One thing led to another and 6 months later I was working as the personal assistant to Fr John Reilly SJ, the Faber Centre Director at the time.
Undertaking this retreat was turning point for me. For the first time my innate knowing was validated by the faith community I was born into. Prior to that I lived in two worlds, one of the notions of God I was taught as child and the other of what I felt deep inside. This retreat reconciled those two worlds and started the slow journey of releasing me from not only unhelpful, but debilitating images of God
What I love most about this ministry is the simplicity of the exercises, there is no special skills or knowledge needed, the language is accessible to all, and each time I pray a first exercise something new is revealed.
Developed by: First Spiritual Exercises Ministry
Sponsored by: JISA – Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality
Supported by: Australian Jesuits