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Faculty & Staff Spirituality Day Provides Opportunity for Reflection, Prayer

On Friday, March 19, Loyola Academy faculty and staff participated in an annual day of reflection. Situated in the season of Lent—a time set aside for contemplation, spiritual growth, and conversion—faculty and staff engaged in a "forced pause." Using St. Ignatius' Examen as a template, Loyola’s teachers and staff members were invited to reflect on the unexpected graces and blessings of this past year, as well as the ways we have all been called to conversion, to a transformation of our hearts.
Over the course of the morning together, reflections were led via Zoom and guided by Director of Adult Faith Formation Doug Gleber, who also serves Loyola as faculty/staff chaplain and liturgy coordinator. The virtual format meant that participants had ample opportunity to pause in quiet reflection and prayer and were encouraged to contemplate questions such as, Where have you found unexpected grace this year? For whom or what are you most grateful? Do you need to forgive yourself for something that you have done or failed to do? Are you being called to forgive someone in your life or to seek forgiveness from a colleague or friend? 

The virtual format also allowed for a degree of personal flexibility that was appreciated by faculty and staff members, who were encouraged to take a walk, write a letter of gratitude or enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in quiet thought. 

“I was impressed with the call for each of us to personalize the day,” notes Design Teacher Jim Cleland. “I spent time on my reflection going over the pandemic and its deleterious effect on my students and then I was asked to turn this experience around so that each of my students might be able to maximize their learning despite the conditions around them. Quite a bit of introspection was called for and I think it was the right approach at the right time.”

"I really appreciated being provided the 'space' to just quietly think and reflect in an overwhelming and mentally challenging year—particularly for educators," adds School Counselor Anneliese Kranz. "Everything this year feels—and is—so much heavier, harder, and more difficult. I think the faculty/staff spirituality day was wonderful, because Doug and Father Pat sensed our collective burnout and allowed us the space to simply sit, ponder, decompress and connect in a way that made me, personally, feel cared for and seen. There was no sense of urgency or pressure to complete another task. Instead, it was just a time to be present with myself and with one another. It may seem small, but that was huge for me and something that I believe many of us needed."

After a year of uncertainty and stress, the day was a welcome respite. 

“I was very happy to take some time off during this very busy year,” says Science Teacher John Azpell.  “I felt very much at peace during reflection and I felt very grateful for my health, my life and my family.”

O'Shaughnessy and Magis Academic Resource Teacher Sara Berrafato Cagle agrees. "The day was just the right amount of spiritual guidance and freedom," she says. "Doug did such a wonderful job facilitating reflection and making the day not feel too overwhelming."

"Ignatian spirituality teaches us to discern our own experiences, it teaches us to look back on our lives, to sift through our memories regardless if they were positive or negative," adds Susie McGovern, physical education & health department chair. "This day allowed me to reflect and find God in the present moment.  It gave me the gift of time and allowed me to reflect on this past school year, my challenges, frustrations, and feelings...it was a healing experience. Our staff spirituality day was exactly what we needed as a school community!"
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