The Bridges Foundation Retreat
The Bridges Foundation offers the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life of St. Ignatius of Loyola each year at various sites throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. Participation in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises offers the retreatants the tools to deepen their prayer life and, thus, their relationship with God. Accompanied by a companion schooled in the movements of the Spiritual Exercises, retreatants are guided according to their own personal journey.
This program, known as the Bridges Retreat in Every Day Life, provides participants the opportunity to experience the full Spiritual Exercises without leaving their daily responsibilities. Developed in the 1500s by St. Ignatius, the Spiritual Exercises were offered both as a 30-day experience and, as St. Ignatius annotated, over an extended period of time. St. Ignatius realized not everyone could leave the responsibilities of their daily lives to devote themselves to the 30-day format, so he provided an alternative. The Bridges Retreat in Every Day Life stretches the Four Weeks of the Thirty Day Retreat over nine months. It uses the same prayers, meditations and reflections as the 30-day retreat.
One benefit of the Bridges Retreat format is the participation in the “Preparation Days.” For four to six weeks at the beginning of the retreat, each retreatant is given the opportunity to try several forms of prayer and develop a relationship with their prayer companion. This period of time also includes a Faith Sharing Day where all participants in the area come together one a Saturday in October.
Each retreatant meets weekly with a trained, experienced Prayer Companion who serves, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to companion the retreatant on an individual basis. The retreat is prayed in parallel with the liturgy of the church. Christmas, Passion Week, Easter and Pentecost are often experienced simultaneously, which is enriching to both. In addition, the retreatants and prayer companions at each site meet as a group. These gatherings, which include talks and opportunities for group sharing, help to form the group into a community.
Since the inception of the Bridges Retreat in Daily Life in 1989, approximately a thousand people have received the graces of the Spiritual Exercises in the St. Louis area. Interest continues to increase, due in large part to Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, whose own experience with the Spiritual Exercises is reflected in his words, actions and spirituality. Additional formation in Ignatian Spirituality and sharing in community after the retreat is available through participation in the Bridges Magis program. Participation in the lay Ignatian community in the St. Louis area is a fulfilling and challenging experience.
Free one-hour information sessions about the Bridges Retreat are offered in the summer throughout the St. Louis area. At the Information Session, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the Bridges Retreat and the application process. For more information and a list of the Information sessions, click here.
If you are unable to attend one of the information sessions, you may contact Executive Director Linda Leib at 314-313-8283.
What is the Next Step?
If you are interested in participating in the Bridges Foundation Retreat you are encouraged to view these testimonials from recent retreatants and prayer companions who summarize their experience and the graces they received.
Should you decide to make the Retreat, you will need to complete a registration form
Once the registration form is received, an application will be mailed to you. After your application is received, an interview will be arranged (in September) to help you discern your readiness for the Bridges Foundation Retreat and the commitment called for by the program. After you are accepted into the program, you will be introduced to a group of Prayer Companions from various backgrounds and experiences and matched with a compatible Prayer Companion at a site that is most convenient for you.
Bridges welcomes adult Christians of all denominations.