Report from the 2018 Bridges Foundation Ignatian Community Retreat

“Fire Starters—Mature Disciples in the Ignatian Way”
Directed by Carol Ackels
Executive Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Dallas, TX
July 13-14, 2018

By Linda Leib, Bridges Foundation Executive Director

Ms. Ackels led the 50 participants through nine hours of talks, silent prayer and round table discussion examining the authority and responsibility of lay ministry in the Church.  Interweaving Scripture, theology, and Ignatian Spirituality, Carol kept our interest and challenged our conventional thinking about ministry.

On Friday evening we considered mature discipleship as St. Ignatius indicated in the Principle and Foundation and the Contemplatio—knowing we are loved completely and eternally and able to offer that love to others.  Carol gave personal prayer experience of how the burden (Matthew 11:30) is LIGHT, as in illumination—letting God’s light shine through us to others.

Saturday ’s three topics for consideration and prayer were related to the gifts offered to us in Baptism—to be priest (genuine worshiper), prophet (speaker of God’s truth), and king (a compassionate leader).  The authority lies in the gifts of the Holy Spirit focusing our ministry on our ability to love as Jesus loves (authority of compassion).

Her conclusion was: “we operate out of graced-optimism—the conviction that despite all the evidence to the contrary, God’s Spirit of mercy is at work in our world and in our lives.” Carol, in agreement with Pope Francis, sees our personal ministry as a struggle with the Evil One requiring “SPIRITUAL COMBAT, VIGILANCE AND DISCERNMENT.” (APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION, GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE, OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS IN TODAY’S WORLD).  Some of her other pronouncements can be found in this exhortation.  Just as Pope Francis uses an entire section of the “GAUDETE IT EXSULATATE” (REJOICE and be GLAD from Matthew Chapter 5), Carol describes the Beatitudes as Jesus’ vision for our ministry.  Carol proclaims: “Life is not about being right, it is about love.”

Evaluations from the participants were very positive; several people asked that the Bridges Foundation invite Carol Ackels back for another retreat.