By JEFF DILLON
The dedication to, and the mahi of two years of study and contemplation and training culminated in a graduation ceremony just before Labour Weekend at Holy Cross Centre in Mosgiel for twelve participants.
Five men and seven women from throughout New Zealand completed the course known as Te Wairua Mahi, offered by Ignatian Spirituality New Zealand. The programme provides for a two-year period of formation in the ministry of spiritual direction within the context of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatian spirituality focuses on the insights and teachings of St Ignatius Loyola (1491 – July 31, 1556) the founder of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits.
The course began in April, 2021, and involved participation in monthly tutorials as well as a total of six weeks intensive formation in slots spread through the period of the course. In the first year, the first three units are undertaken with the remaining two completed in the second year. Each of the units consists of a residential period of five days where participants are provided with guidance through reading, contemplation, reflection and reviews, leading to the development of their experience in following the Ignatian tradition. The October, 2022, get- together and graduation now confirmed that the participants had achieved the capacity to be spiritual directors.
In fact, the participants have already been offering spiritual direction, with supervision. This now means that the graduates are able to offer spiritual direction, retreats in daily life and the full Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola.
Four Anglicans undertook the training. They were the Venerable Nick Mountfort (Christchurch), Rev. Jenny Dawson (Wellington), Rev. John McLister (Lyttleton) and lay Anglican Eddie O’Connor (Christchurch). Ven. Mountfort observed, ” For me Te Wairua Mahi was life changing. It formed me as a spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition. I have a number of people who come to me for spiritual direction. Also this tradition helps all my pastoral care preaching work in the parish. Having done the spiritual exercises and having more opportunity to reflect on them my devotion to Christ has deepened. I was very enriched by my fellow pilgrims, the group that journeyed with me over the two years, but also the wonderful leaders. Further reading and reflection in the future will only take me deeper in this life enriching spirituality.”
Ignatian Spirituality New Zealand is a team of Ignatian people and the core team includes: Kevin Gallagher and his wife Lyn (Christchurch), Sr Mary Kay, RC, Sr Anne Powell, RC, (Religious of the Cenacle in Waikanae, Kapiti Coast), and Fr Mark Chamberlain (parish priest at Holy Name, North Dunedin). The team is prayerfully supported by the sisters of the Society of Sacred Heart in Auckland and is engaged with the Cenacle sisters of New Zealand. Fr Brian Cummings, SM, who had been part of the core team, died earlier this year.
It was Fr Cummings who encouraged Lucienne Hensel (Wellington) to sign up for the course in 2021. She found the course very supportive and helpful for her own efforts in making contacts with young Catholics at Masses in Wellington. She sought them out and provided support if needed. She said she was encouraged by the quality of faith she found in these young Catholics.
Those who graduated in 2022 were: Sue Whittaker (Dunedin), Ven. Nick Mountfort, Edward O’Connor, Mary Allan and Rev John McLister (Christchurch.), Angela Francis, Lorraine McArthur ( Tasman) and Rev. Jenny Dawson, Lucienne Hensel, Msgr Gerard Burns, Fr Patrick Bridgman (Wellington) and Juliet Kojis (Whanganui.).