Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

When preaching, we Jesuits will often throw out terms such as “the Spiritual Exercises,” “contemplative in action,” “discernment of spirits,” and more. When we do that, we are sometimes – unfortunately – assuming one or more of the following: 1) that somewhere along the line we ourselves or one of our brothers or predecessors explained what the term means; 2) that you picked it up if you went to a Jesuit high school or college; 3) that you’ve experienced the Spiritual Exercises (St. Ignatius’s 30-day retreat that all Jesuits make at least twice in their lives); 4) that you picked it up by osmosis; and/or 5) that you remember the meaning, no matter when or how you came upon it.

Not good, obviously, for a few reasons, principally because those Spiritual Exercises infuse and are the soul of all things Jesuit and Ignatian: the life of a Jesuit himself or a lay colleague, the mission of every work of the Society of Jesus, our preaching and writing, the way one sees the world, the choices we make. Another reason it’s not good is that it gives some the feeling of being on the outside looking in.

About seven years ago, Jesuit James Martin published a book cheekily titled The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. The subtitle is not cheeky: A Spirituality for Real Life. It has been wildly popular since its publication, enjoyed by people who have in-depth knowledge of Ignatian Spirituality to those who don’t even know who Jesuits are. Our parish Good Word Book Club read The Jesuit Guide last year and found it an enjoyable and informative read, shedding light on some of those terms above, giving practical suggestions for living out one’s faith in everyday life (that’s the Spirituality for Real Life part) and much, much more.

The Good Word folks made a great proposal a few months ago: to offer parish-wide the monthly opportunity for parishioners to join with one another to discuss The Jesuit Guide in small groups after the five weekend Masses. We will begin the weekend of February 11/12, discussing two chapters in the parish library (adjacent to our parish bookstore) each month. The book is available for purchase in the bookstore.

There is more information about this project elsewhere in the bulletin, along with a sign-up sheet. You can also sign up online: there has been a link to a JotForm in the weekly parish email; another will go out later this week. (If you are a registered parishioner and don’t receive our weekly email, please let Maureen Corrigan know: mfcorrigan@usfca.edu. And, by the way, Fr. Martin, the author, will join us via skype sometime in the spring to discuss his book, among other things.)

On another note, as many of you know, Fr. John Coleman has begun a three-month sabbatical. He will be living at LMU, working to compile some of his many blogs (see the parish website) into a book. One of those months, he will make the Spiritual Exercises again – for the fourth time! Please keep Fr. John in your prayers these months. When he returns, we will look to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Mark your calendars for June 4.

We are very fortunate to have someone take his place while he is gone, Fr. Sam Restivo, CR (Congregation of the Resurrection). Fr. Sam is the former provincial superior for his province. A Canadian, he spent last year as a member of the Loyola House Jesuit Community while completing a 12-month residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at UCSF. With a slew of degrees under his belt, prior to his term as provincial, Fr. Sam spent time working as an associate pastor, a social worker, his province’s director of vocations, and more. Fr. Sam will be a wonderful, if temporary, addition to our staff and community; I am very pleased to have him join us for these months. Please help me to extend our parish community’s warmest welcome.

Let us continue to ask God’s blessings on St. Ignatius parish and its people.

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr. Greg