What is the Bridges Retreat?
The Bridges Foundation offers the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola each year at various locations 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 Everyday 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 either as a 30-day experience or 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 Everyday 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, paced to utilize one period of prayer each day.
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, to discover their own prayer style and to 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 on a Saturday in October.
Each retreatant commits to one period of prayer each day, and then meets weekly with a trained, experienced prayer companion who serves, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to accompany the retreatant on an individual basis. The retreat is prayed in parallel with the liturgy of the church. The meditations on the Birth, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus are prayed during the Christmas, Passion Week, Easter and Pentecost seasons, which enriches both experiences. 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 Everyday Life in 1989, more than a thousand people in the St. Louis area have received the graces of the Spiritual Exercises. Interest continues to increase, due in part to Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, whose own experience with the Spiritual Exercises is reflected in his words, actions and spirituality. Bridges welcomes adult Christians of all denominations.
Forming a Community
One important component of the Bridges Retreat in Daily Life is gathering together and forming community with others. Although this year will be somewhat different because of virtual meetings, this idea of small groups meeting in community still lies at the center of the program. Below are the meeting times and sites:
Webster Groves Christian Church
1320 W Lockwood Ave, St. Louis, MO 63122
meets weekly on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 a.m.
Sacred Heart Valley Park
17 Ann Ave., Valley Park, MO 63088
meets weekly on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.
St. Francis Xavier College Church
3628 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108
meets monthly on the first Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m.
St. Matthew the Apostle Parish
2715 N Sarah St, St. Louis, MO 63113
meets monthly on the second Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.
St. Nicholas Spirituality Center
623 Saint Nicholas Dr, O’Fallon, IL 62269
meets weekly on Thursday evenings starting at 6:00 p.m.
Online Only Group
meets weekly on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. (CT).
Get More Information
- Registration for 2021-22 retreat will open on May 1, 2021. But we’re always happy to talk to you about the retreat and the possibility of your participation next year. Feel free to contact executive director Steve Givens at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (314) 401-2072.
- Download a PDF version of the 2021 Bridges brochure: 2021 Bridges Brochure
- View video testimonials from recent retreatants and prayer companions who summarize their experience and the graces they received. Click here to view video testimonial library.
- Attend an Information Session: 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.
If you are unable to attend one of the information sessions, you may contact Executive Director Steve Givens at 314-401-2072.
I’m Interested! What’s Next?
If you’re interested in participating and praying the 2021 Bridges Retreat, take the next step by proceeding to the next page, registering, and filling out the “My Story Personal Information Form.”