26 Jun Ignatian Spirituality Project: Spiritual Accompaniment with the Goal of Ending Homelessness
By Krista Bowman and Kevin Kelly, SJ (members of the ISP-Toronto Team)
“Jesus not only wanted to show solidarity with every person. He not only wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help, his love. He identified with all those who suffer, who weep, who suffer any kind of injustice.”
– Pope Francis
New to Toronto since September 2016, the Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) is a ministry working in partnership with Regis College to provide a retreat program rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The generous support and participation of the Regis community has played a vital role in helping to get ISP-Toronto off the ground.
ISP began in 1999 in Chicago when Fr. Bill Creed, SJ was asked to make the Spiritual Exercises more available to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience them. He was inspired to create a retreat program that provides spiritual support for men and women who have experience with homelessness or living in transitional housing, often in recovery from addictions, and trying to refocus and redirect their lives. Today, ISP is an international network with retreat programs in 30 cities in the United States and Canada, including ISP-Toronto.
Our retreats and ongoing spiritual accompaniment are provided at no cost to the retreatant and are designed specifically to focus on building community, fostering hope, and finding freedom to spark further transformation. During retreats, participants are offered opportunities to share stories of their personal journeys and to engage deeply in practices rooted in Ignatian and 12-Step spirituality. With this support, retreatants experience a movement from isolation to a sense of belonging. People of all faith traditions are welcome since we do not evangelize or preach any particular faith practices. Similar to 12-Step programs, the participant is welcomed to connect with their Higher Power as they find helpful.
In every city, ISP programs are volunteer-led and facilitated. Our ISP-Toronto team includes staff and students of Regis College, Jesuit seminarians and team members experienced in working with people with experiences of homelessness and addictions. For our 2017/2018 retreats, the ISP-Toronto team has also invited a number of students in the Spiritual Direction program to participate as retreat facilitators. Through this innovative partnership with ISP-Toronto, Regis College has an opportunity to contribute the skill and talents of its students to the spiritual care of people who may not otherwise have access to it. For students, ISP demonstrates how Ignatian spirituality can be truly meaningful and accessible for all people and allows students to share in the spiritual journeys of individuals facing unique challenges. Together, ISP-Toronto and Regis College are working to transform our shared vision for justice, restoration and care for the whole person into opportunities for concrete action.
“Jesus keeps knocking on our doors, the doors of our lives. He doesn’t do this by magic, with special effects, with flashing lights and fireworks. Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbours, in the faces of those at our side.”
– Pope FrancisMORE INFORMATION ABOUT ISP
Quotes from Pope Francis, taken from his address to the Charitable Centre of St. Patrick Parish in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, 24 September 2015