Timeline

1979

At the invitation of Reme J. DeRoo, Bishop of Victoria, British Columbia, Jim and Joan Felling make an 8-day directed Ignatian retreat.

1981

Jim & Joan take additional training in Guelph and Jesuits are brought to Vancouver Island to train the prayer companions. Weekend retreats are started in parishes and the Spiritual Exercises (Annotation 19) are offered relying on sisters, priests, and experienced lay people as directors.

1988

Jim and Joan retire and move back to St. Louis. John English, SJ from Guelph, Ontario, Canada, comes to St. Louis and introduces them to Marie Schimelfening and Bob Johnston, SJ, who are active in Christian Life Community locally and nationally. Joan and Jim join Nicholas Owen CLC. Bridges refounded in St. Louis.

1989

Marie Schimelfening and Bob Johnston, SJ were planning to revive Bridges, but Marie was moving to New York to study at the United Nations. Jim and Joan Felling were asked to coordinate Bridges. Fathers Bob Doyle, SJ, Frank Severin, SJ, Bob Johnston, SJ, Marie Schimelfening, Pat Carter, Jean Horton, Sister Mary Ann Wachtel and Jim and Joan Felling are the refounding members. In 1989 Bridges started out at Fusz Memorial at St. Louis University and the Cenacle with 7 morning participants, 10 evening participants and 9 directors.

1990

Morning and evening session are held at the Cenacle on Spoede Road with 12 morning participants, 21 evening participants, and 16 Directors. An advisory Board is formed made up of Fathers Bob Doyle, SJ, Frank Severin, SJ, Sisters Anne Fletcher, RC, Marian Cowan, CSJ, and Marie R. O’Rourke, Mary Mondello, and Jim and Joan Felling. Began using “Choosing Christ in the World,” by Joseph Tetlow, SJ.

1991

Joseph Tetlow, SJ came to St. Louis University and joined the Advisory Board. An informal Prayer Companions Program is started to train lay directors of the Exercises. It is led by Joan Felling and uses video tapes from Rev. George Schemel, SJ, and Sr. Judith Roemer called “Ignatian Spirituality and the Directed Retreat.” There are 16 morning participants, 31 evening participants and 22 directors in Bridges and 21 Prayer Companion participants.

1992

A formal 2-year Prayer Companion Program begins which meets the 3rd Sunday of each month (September – May). The faculty consists of Rev. Joseph Tetlow, SJ, Sr. Marian Cowan, CSJ, and Mary Mondello, PhD. The Cenacle moves and Bridges begins meeting at the Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal.  There are 7 morning participants, 21 evening participants, 18 directors including 6 interns from the Prayer Companion Program and 45 participants in Prayer Companions.

1993

A coordinator system is initiated to administer Bridges and the Missouri Province of Jesuits gives 6 scholarships to African Americans. The Cenacle Good Shepherd becomes a second site and is a more comfortable location for African Americans. 26 morning participants, 31 evening participants and 26 directors including 6 interns under supervision, and 67 participants in Prayer Companions. In May of ’94, 39 people completed the Prayer Companions. Also in ’94, Jean Horton, Pat Carter and Pat Hottinger, SH, begin offering sample meetings of CLC particularly for those who had finished Prayer Companions and are looking for some way to sustain both the Exercises and Ignatian Spirituality in their lives. At present it looks as if two new CLC groups will develop from this effort, and there is another group already affiliated which is made up of some members who completed Bridges and are currently enrolled in Prayer Companions.

1994

New coordinators assume duties for Bridges and Prayer Companions and Jim and Joan stay on for a year as backup while the transition takes place. Gail and Mike McDonough are Bridges coordinators and Bill & Charlene Ricker are Prayer Companions coordinators. The other coordinators from last year remain in their positions and Phyllis Walsh becomes Wednesday morning coordinator; Dave & Beth Purcell, Tuesday evening Coordinators; and Marilyn Leong, Thursday Evening Coordinator at the Cenacle. A fourth site is added, this one at St. Louis University with the help of Fr. Joe Tetlow, SJ, Joan Felling and Mary Mondello. This location has meetings once a month during lunch hour and the talk covers 4 weeks at a time. Mary Flick is the Coordinator for SLU. A further development in Bridges takes place. Sister Mary Funge, SJ, moves to St. Louis from Chicago and begins offering directed retreats in parishes using some of the graduates of Prayer Companions to direct. 67 participants in Bridges, 34 directors, and 85 participants in Prayer Companions.  

1995

A mentoring program was put into place this year by Sr. Marian Cowan, CSJ with the help fo Fr. Jim Blumeyer, SJ, Joan Felling and Mary Mondello. This was needed by new directors coming from Prayer Companions – as well as directors joining the program – who were unfamiliar with Bridges. A number of trained Spiritual Directors were invited to become mentors, and see the person they are mentoring during the second hour of their Bridges session. This was a much needed component in bringing new directors along in the program. The results were excellent. We took fewer retreatants this year due to the change. We had 62 retreatants this year. The Webster site was added.

1996

The Mentoring Program was refined and felt to have increased the quality of our program. Those who were mentored during their first year of direction will continue to see their mentors monthly for one more year. Janet Nimer and Margaret Escofferey took over for Sr. Verona Schaefer as coordinators of our Spiritual Directors. Hugh Harrington began publishing “SI” (St. Ignatius) for all present and former Bridges/PC people. It gives information about Bridges, Prayer Companions, The Weeks of Prayer and Christian Life Communities. Its initial purpose was to encourage former Bridges and PC graduates to invite friends to make the program and keep them informed of Ignatian centered news in the community. A location was opened at St. Charles Lwanga Center with the help of their director, Mrs. Gloria Green. This center is especially for African Americans although anyone is welcome. We have 4 directors who had received certification from Prayer Companions. Annunciata site opened. We had 48 retreatants. Paul Dukro replaces Mary Mondello in Prayer Companions and Jim Blumeyer takes over for Joe Tetlow, SJ. St. Patricia Gillespie becomes coordinator of Prayer Guides with Jean Smith as her assistant.  

1997

Eight interns from Prayer Companions were being mentored weekly. We had 4 second-year interns meeting with their mentors monthly. It was decided that more support and training for directors was needed. The decision was made to change our opening format for three of our locations, giving directors training the first half hour while the retreatants were being given a combination of talks, small group work and faith sharing guided by a facilitator. After the first half hour, the directors would meet with their retreatants. We had 54 retreatants this year: SLU 13, Lwanga 5, Cenacle 7, Tuesday evening 15, and Wednesday morning 14. 35 Directors offered their services.

1998

Dot Carnowske is working with Gail McDonough to take over as Overall Coordinator of Bridges and Prayer Companions. Coordinator was board leader. Lwanga and Cenacle close.

1999

Charlene Ricker takes over as Coordinator of the Bridges Program. Jean Smith becomes the Coordinator of Prayer Guides.

2000

Revised Mentoring Program.

2001

Bridges becomes non-profit which enables the pursuit of grants, a professional board and IRS status. Seattle Program (SEEL) is studied. Reformed Board, separate from operations. Foundation is established. Charlene becomes Director of Operations, a paid position. Lwanga is restored. They use John Veltri’s Orientations instead of Choosing Christ. They also use a format of meeting one Saturday a month for a talk, ritual and sharing. Dave Fleming, SJ replaces Jim Blumeyer on Prayer Companions staff. Sr. Madeleine Lane, SSND joins staff to replace Paul Duckro. John Foley, SJ and Carl Starkloff, SJ also contribute

2002

Hsin-hsin Huang, MSW, receives the Retreat in Daily Life and becomes active in Bridges by promoting a “post-Bridges I” experience that included anyone who has received the Exercises, called Journey’s End.

2003

Annual Meeting initiated. Formation of the Marketing Committee. Amy Fister directs and develops the first Bridges website.

2005

Formation of Bridges II program. This was designed to be a one year experience with prayer guides needing an additional year of training and formation. This involved shared presentation time followed by small group meetings. Executive Director’s job description updated. Number of information sessions increased and direct contact follow-up with participants initiated.

2008

Bridges 1 site was opened in St. Peters, MO. Two mailings were begun—soliciting donations and informing the Ignatian community of Bridges programs. A list of resources was developed for Prayer Companions. Ambassador program refined. Testimonials added to website. Formulated and disseminated “Policy for Ongoing Formation of Prayer Companions”. Because of projected deficit a new payment policy for Bridges 1 was implemented. The participant cost of the Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life was determined to be $882.00. Retreatants were directed to pay according to ability. Payment plans were instituted. Marketing Committee was allotted funds to hire a recruiting coordinator. Marketing also worked to upgrade the website. The first Ignatian Community Retreat was held in July, 2009 and has been held yearly, except for the years of St. Louis University’s Ignatian Spirituality Conference, which is held every three years. Bridges included in the Ignatian Spirituality Network Bridges site in St. Charles County—All Saints Parish in St. Peters. Investigating the opening of a site in Illinois is begun. Original text seminar is offered to Prayer Companions.

2010

Tom Simon writes “The Bridges Foundation of St. Louis—the Story”.  Work is completed on the Five Year Plan. Work begins to digitalize past recordings of Bridges talks. Cost of Bridges II is raised to meet the cost of the program—again participants are advised to pay according to their ability. It becomes MAGIS. Bridges Board offers workshop at the 2011 Ignatian Spirituality Conference entitled “Bringing the 19th Annotation Retreat to the Community”. First Email Quarterly Newsletter—editor Tom Simon.

2012

Bridges Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life is promoted in the White House newsletter, “Echoes”.  Bridges I becomes known as Bridges. Good Shepherd Spirituality Center at St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon, IL is opened. You-Tube video of Bridges participants and Fr. Mark McKenzie, S.J. was filmed and added to the website. Efforts are begun to service the Spanish speaking community as part of plans to increase diversity among retreatants.

2014

St. Joseph Parish in Manchester opens as a site for Bridges.  St. Francis Xavier College Church shares as a site. Fr. Joseph Tetlow, S.J. leads the Market Place Retreat

2015

Holy Spirit Parish is added as a Bridges site.

 

 Learn More About the History of the Bridges Foundation