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In the Footsteps of St. Ignatius Loyola

A group of faculty and staff members embarked on an enlightening pilgrimage across Spain over spring break, retracing the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola through a captivating itinerary that spanned several historic cities. Led by Loyola Vice President of Mission, Ministry, and Identity Alice Kearney Alwin ‘98 and President Rev. Gregory J. Ostdiek, SJ, the trip provided pilgrims with a deep immersion into the life and legacy of the esteemed saint, while also delving into the rich cultural tapestry of the Iberian Peninsula.
The expedition commenced in Loyola, the birthplace of St. Ignatius and home to the magnificent Sanctuary of Loyola. Here, amidst the tranquil Basque countryside, participants delved into the early life of the saint and his profound spiritual transformation. Celebrating Mass in the bedroom where he convalesced after the injury that ignited his spiritual conversion, the pilgrims gained insight into the experiences that shaped his spiritual journey.
 
Continuing their journey, the group made a stop in Pamplona, the site of Ignatius' "cannonball moment," a battlefield injury that changed his life. 
 
The next destination was Montserrat, a breathtaking mountain sanctuary steeped in centuries of religious tradition. Nestled amidst rugged peaks, the Benedictine monastery provided a serene setting for contemplation and prayer, allowing participants to connect with the spiritual essence of their pilgrimage.
 
Next on the agenda was Manresa, where St. Ignatius spent a pivotal period of introspection and discernment in a cave overlooking the town. Against the backdrop of this tranquil retreat, Fr. Greg celebrated Mass in the very cave where Ignatius wrote The Spiritual Exercies, a setting he noted was the most interesting place he has ever celebrated Mass.
 
The journey culminated in Barcelona, a vibrant metropolis infused with a blend of medieval charm and modern sophistication. Here, participants explored the architectural marvels of Antoni Gaudí, including the iconic Sagrada Família. The group was able to visit churches were Ignatius prayed, begged for alms, and honed his preaching style in this urban setting.
 
Throughout the trip, faculty and staff members participated in formal and informal reflections. By immersing themselves in the rich tapestry of Spanish culture and history, pilgrims gained a deeper appreciation for the enduring legacy of St. Ignatius and the profound impact of his spiritual teachings.
 
As they bid farewell to Spain and returned home, participants carried with them cherished memories and bounds of friendship that will continue to inspire their personal and academic journeys for years to come.
 
The spring break trip stands as a testament to the power of experiential learning and the transformative potential of immersive educational experiences. In retracing the footsteps of St. Ignatius through historic cities, participants embarked on a journey of discovery, enlightenment, and spiritual renewal. This experience will be extended to all faculty and staff in our ongoing efforts to nurture Ignatian spirituality and foster personal growth.
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