MU discussion group reflects spirit of Ignatius

By Catelyn Roth-Johnson Special to the Tribune

The importance of reflection, prayer and service is the weekly focus of the Ignatian Collegians, a Marquette program for undergraduates of any faith that revolves around discussion of those spiritual themes — themes especially relevant at a Jesuit university.

This Friday marks the deadline for applications to the four-year-old group, which typically features twelve to twenty students seeking to broaden their understanding of what it means to obtain “Ignatian spirituality.”

“This organization allows current undergraduate students at Marquette to take a deeper look at the lifestyle they already have,” said Annie Devine, the coordinator of Ignatian Collegians and a staff member in Campus Ministry. “Because these students share a common goal of helping others, this group encourages them to share their experiences and connect the dots on what they’ve learned.”

Former member Kathryn Tuleta, junior in the College of Business Administration, discussed with the group her visits to the Milwaukee Catholic Home and the time she spent serving Eucharist to the elderly.

“It soon became the best part of my week, talking to (group members) about life and praying with them,” Tuleta said.

Tuleta said the Ignatian Collegians challenged her to go outside her comfort zone.

“I was reflecting on my actions and applying them to my daily life,” she said. “I found that while giving back to Milwaukee, I was able to live out the ‘Be the Difference’ mission we hear so often on campus.”

Devine said it is beneficial for the group to have a smaller number because it allows for a more personal experience. Though members do not complete volunteer activities as a group, each member should have the Jesuit mentality of “being men and women for others.”

The program originated due to high demand from interested students looking to further understand and reflect on their lives in the context of the values of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.

To do this, the group uses St. Ignatius as a model to emphasize the importance of Jesuit values in their lives.

“When I started to follow some of the characteristics of Ignatius, I began to see a change in myself and the way I treated others,” saod the Rev. Thomas Caldwell. Caldwell is a Jesuit and lives in the Jesuit Residence.

“It emphasized what my lifestyle was good for,” Caldwell said. “God is naturally good, humans are good, but thinking about what my service is good for shaped the way I viewed the world. My work is good for the service of others, and as the Jesuits say, ‘for the greater glory of God.’”

A number of current students at Marquette said they feel the same way.

Bethie Stein, a freshman in the College of Communication, said she volunteered often in high school at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

She said she participated in various service trips, including one with the American Cancer Society. She was also a Kairos retreat leader, guiding and modeling her fellow students toward a service-filled life of faith.

“I am very passionate about service, but I was unaware that Marquette had a program like this,” Stein said. “Doing service activities allowed me to see things from a new perspective and to be more open.”

“The Jesuit values and traditions are very important to me, and I am glad they have a program like this at Marquette,” she said.

According to the program’s website, some of the organization’s goals are finding God in all things, being contemplative in action and being free from attachment in order to discern responsible action. The group also engages in frequent prayer, primarily the examination of conscience according to St. Ignatius of Loyola.