This year marked the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’ cannonball injury at the Battle of Pamplona, which led to his conversion. It also marked the start of the worldwide celebration of the Ignatian Year (2021-2022), during which we are encouraged to reflect on the many cannonballs in our lives — and on how God is inviting us to something more, even in tough moments. Here we look back at some of 2021’s major moments from a Jesuit perspective.
Stories & Resources
1. Descendants of Jesuit Slaveholding and Jesuits of the United States Announce Historic Partnership
In a landmark undertaking in the pursuit of racial healing and justice, Descendants of ancestors enslaved and sold by the Jesuits and the Jesuits of the United States announced a partnership to create the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation in March 2021.
2. Ignatian Year E-book: “Christ Plays in 10,000 Places”
To celebrate the Ignatian Year 2021-2022, the 500th anniversary of St. Ignatius’ conversion, 26 contributors came together to create a free e-book of Ignatian prayers, poems, reflections and illustrations entitled “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: Through the Year with Ignatian Spirituality.” Click here to sign up to have the e-book emailed to you.
3. New Truth-telling Initiative Confronts Red Cloud Indian School’s Past
Red Cloud Indian School is developing a Truth and Healing process to confront its history as part of the Indian Boarding School Policy. Led by Lakota educator Maka Black Elk, the process will work with the community on Pine Ridge Reservation, examining school’s history and the lived experiences of its survivors — through testimony gathering, community dialogue, archival research and an institutional acknowledgement of harm. Learn more through our AMDG podcast interview with Maka Black Elk.
4. An Ignatian Guide to Lent
Catholics have a lot of Lenten traditions. If you’ve been Catholic a long time, you may not even register these traditions; they may feel tired and routine. During Lent, we shared how Ignatian spirituality can breathe new insight into these sacred rituals. Though Lent is over, this video series offers insights that can be carried throughout the year.
5. Jesuits Celebrate Ordination of 25 New Priests and 19 Deacons
The Society of Jesus celebrated the ordination of 25 new priests in Canada, the United States and Haiti in 2021. 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.
6. Jesuits Mourn Human Rights Activist Fr. Stan Swamy
Jesuits worldwide mourned the passing of Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ, on July 5, 2021. Fr. Swamy was a lifelong activist for the rights of impoverished and Indigenous communities in India. In an attempt to silence his advocacy, he was arrested and wrongly incarcerated by the Indian government from October of 2020 until his death.
7. Society of Jesus Welcomes 34 New Novices
The Society of Jesus in the United States, Canada and Haiti welcomed 34 new Jesuit novices in 2021. 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.
8. Undergrad and incarcerated students are learning side-by-side at Marquette. The result is transformative.
In Mahmood Watkins’s classroom, half of the students are Marquette University undergrads. Half are formerly incarcerated individuals. The class is part of Marquette’s Education Preparedness Program, which offers educational and career-building services to current and formerly incarcerated students.
9. Celebrating Jesuit Brothers: A Vocation of Accompaniment
In October, we celebrated Jesuits brothers, who live a life of radical availability, serving as doctors, teachers, social workers, retreat directors but most of all companions on our life’s pilgrimage, walking alongside us as together we encounter God. Meet a few of the Jesuit brothers serving in the United States and Canada.
1. Meet Jesuit Saints Not Named Ignatius with Tim O’Brien, SJ
Jesuit historian Fr. Tim O’Brien introduces us to a noble-turned-Jesuit-turned-diplomat, a carpenter that saved priests — and orchestrated jail breaks – and martyrs that led to a global showdown over what means to go on mission.
2. Sister Helen Prejean Wants Your Help Ending the Death Penalty
Listen to this episode, and you’ll learn at least one incontrovertible fact: Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, is an absolute dynamo. She has spent close to four decades accompanying prisoners on death row and almost as long advocating for the end of the death penalty. With AMDG hosts with Mike Jordan Laskey and MegAnne Liebsch she talks about current work against the death penalty and the importance of storytelling to Sr. Helen’s mission.
3. Reimagining the Story of St. Ignatius: A Conversation on Storytelling
In honor of the Ignatian Year, we invited authors to reimagine the story of St. Ignatius. On this episode, Eric Clayton talks with two of the writers who contributed stories, Ryan Carroll and John Dougherty.
4. Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day with Rosella Kinoshameg
For Rosella Kinoshameg, a member of the Ojibwe First Nation, Indigenous and Catholic traditions go hand in hand. Both energize her to serve her community on Manitoulin Island in Canada. AMDG host MegAnne Liebsch talks to Rosella about the ongoing trauma in Indigenous communities. Rosella also shares moments of joy from her vast ministry with the Anishinabe Spiritual Centre, which is a work of the Jesuits of Canada.
5. What Anti-Nuclear Activist Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, Sacrifices for His Faith
Fr. Kelly is a peace activist and a member of the Plowshares movement, a largely Catholic movement of pacifists that protests nuclear weapons by damaging weapons and military property. He has spent at least a decade of his life behind bars for his witness.
6. Constructing Ignatian Spirituality with Fr. John O’Malley, SJ
Legendary Jesuit historian, Fr. John O’Malley, SJ, reflect on a recent article he co-wrote with another Jesuit historian Fr. Tim O’Brien, titled “The Twentieth-Century Construction of Ignatian Spirituality: A Sketch.” It offers a quick historical tour through Jesuit history, reflecting on how we ended up with spirituality we call “Ignatian.”
1. Praying the Pandemic
Fr. Justin Claravall, SJ, shares personal reflections on how he has prayed with the COVID-19 pandemic — and invites us to do the same.
2. What Can St. Ignatius Teach Us about Caring for Creation?
“God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth.” St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote these words almost 500 years ago. But we can learn a lot from them today. Join the Ignatian family as we work to renew our relationship with God and Creation through the teachings of St. Ignatius in 2021: igsol.net/renewing.
3. Movements of the Heart: Imagining Jesuit Life
In this video series, meet three Jesuits who speak from their heart about their own vocation and the movements of their souls. They highlight three of the most important aspects of Jesuit life: spirituality, mission and community. Reflect on how these pillars of Jesuit life might be reflected in your own.
4. What is Climate Displacement?
Climate is the leading cause of displacement worldwide. In 2020 alone, 55 million people were displaced by extreme weather events. Many more are forced to migrate due to related causes like food insecurity or drought. Discover how you can take action with the Jesuits and our partners to support environmental migrants and those displaced by climate change.