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January 7, 2021 — This year marks the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’ cannonball injury at the Battle of Pamplona, which led to his conversion. While recovering from the battle wound, Ignatius of Loyola underwent a deep spiritual transformation that ultimately led him to establish the Society of Jesus. For many of us, the last year was a grueling challenge. With 2020 officially over, we have the opportunity to reflect — to find God’s presence in our lives and to carry these lessons into 2021. In the spirit of an Ignatian Examen, we look back at some of 2020’s major moments from a Jesuit perspective.

Stories & Resources

1. Contemplation and Political Action: An Ignatian Guide to Civic Engagement

Pope Francis teaches that “a good Catholic meddles in politics.” But as divisions grew amid the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, engaging in politics felt messy, even disheartening. This reflection guide from the Jesuit Conference examines how we can engage in political action and dialogue as a people committed to a faith that does justice.

Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ2. Brian Paulson SJ Named Next President of Jesuit Conference

In November, Fr. Brian G. Paulson, SJ, was appointed the next president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. Fr. Paulson currently serves as provincial of the USA Midwest Province and will assume his new position in 2021. He will succeed Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, who has served as president of the Jesuit Conference since 2014.

3. Jesuits Demand Immediate Release of Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ

Since October, Jesuit communities across the globe have gathered to protest the incarceration of Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ. The 83-year-old Jesuit was arrested by the Indian government on false charges of terrorism as part of a broader crackdown on human rights defenders in India. Fr. Swamy has dedicated his life to accompanying the poor and marginalized in India, especially the Indigenous Adivasi community. Multiple efforts to secure his release have been denied by the courts, despite Fr. Swamy’s age, poor health and spiking COVID-19 cases.

Stan Swamy, SJ, protestJesuits and their colleagues gathered outside the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, Dec. 8, 2020, to protest the unjust incarceration of Fr. Swamy.

4. Jesuits Celebrate Ordination of 15 New Priests and 25 Deacons

The Society of Jesus celebrated the ordination of 15 new priests in Canada, the United States and Haiti in 2020. For Jesuits, the formation process (i.e., training) that leads up to priestly ordination lasts 10 to 12 years and includes intensive stages of study, ministry, accompaniment of those on the margins of society, prayer and more. Meet the ordinands.

Deacon ordination in Toronto 2020

Twenty-five Jesuit deacons were also ordained in 2020. For a Jesuit in formation, ordination to the diaconate is the final step in preparation for priestly ordination in the Society of Jesus. Meet the deacons.

5. Society of Jesus Welcomes 40 New Novices

The Society of Jesus in the United States, Canada and Haiti welcomed 40 new Jesuit novices in 2020. They have taken the initial step on their journey toward Jesuit priesthood or brotherhood, known as “Jesuit formation,” which can take a total of eight to 12 years. Meet the novices.

6. How Can We Be People for Others in the Time of COVID-19?
When the coronavirus hit last spring, Jesuit-affiliated ministries, parishes, schools and individuals across the globe adapted and responded. Through social media, videos and photographs, emails and phone calls, the Jesuit network shared with us how they took action during this pandemic.


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7. Ignatian Family Cries Out for Racial Justice/ Examen for Racial Justice

The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked outrage at the systemic racism facing Black Americans. Throughout the summer of 2020, members of the Ignatian family joined the Black Lives Matter movement in protest and advocacy.

Examen Racism

8. 25 Days of Ignatian Spiritual Gifts

We believe that Ignatian spirituality is a gift to the world. During Advent, as we made room in our hearts for the coming of Christ, members of the Ignatian family reflected on 25 Ignatian spiritual gifts. Though Advent and Christmas are over, this video series offers insights that can be carried throughout the year.

AMDG Podcast

1. Think you know Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises? Think again.

Many of us are familiar with the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. But have you ever heard of the 18th Annotation Retreat? Maybe you know it by a different name: the First Spiritual Exercises. On this episode of AMDG, guest host Eric Clayton talks with Fr. Michael Hansen, SJ, an Australian Jesuit priest who literally wrote the book on the topic. A series of simple exercises that can be completed anywhere, this approach to Ignatius’ spiritual work is not only accessible to everyone, but reflects the saint’s early days giving the Exercises.

2. Shawn Copeland on Confronting Racism in the Church (Plus “An Examen for Racism”)

On this episode of AMDG, host Mike Jordan Laskey and Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, professor emerita of theology at Boston College, discuss the anti-racist protests around the country and beyond. They also discussed the ugly legacy of racism within the American Catholic Church, and how we can all work to make the church more just and equitable. Dr. Copeland is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, and she was the first Black theologian to hold that role.

3. Anthony Fauci’s Jesuit Education Helped Prepare Him for This

As the COVID-19 pandemic descended upon the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci became a household name thanks to his expertise and his clear and calm communication style. Dr. Fauci credits his years at Regis High School in New York City and the College of the Holy Cross as helping to lay the groundwork for his career. He discusses his Jesuit education, what his typical day looks like mid-pandemic and where we stand right now in our fight against this dreadful disease. (Recorded June 16, 2020)

Videos

1. Tough Love and Discernment

This year, amid a global pandemic, we reflected on the many cannonballs in our lives — and on how God is inviting us to something more, even in tough moments.

2. Now Discern This: Audacious Ignatius

Paul Mitchell reflects on how he came to write the children’s book “Audacious Ignatius” with his sister, illustrator Katie Mitchell Broussard.

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