Pilgrims on a journey

Loyola leaders and trustees follow in Ignatius' footsteps

By Rita Buettner  |  Photos courtesy of Terrence Sawyer, J.D.

During their pilgrimage, the group visited the birthplace of St. Francis Xavier.

As the new strategic plan for Loyola University Maryland was entering its final stages in June, members of Loyola’s Board of Trustees joined the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., and members of his Cabinet for a pilgrimage through Spain and Italy.

The eight-day pilgrimage led the participants from Bilbao, Spain, to Rome, Italy. They stopped at the castle where St. Ignatius lived with his family before continuing on to Xavier, home of St. Francis Xavier. They also visited Montserrat and Manresa.

Montserrat is the town where, after his conversion, Ignatius prayed and committed himself to Christ, leaving his sword at the statue of the Blessed Mother there. He pledged to spend the next year in penance and prayer and continued on to Manresa, where he encountered the Holy Spirit and wrote what is known today as The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

During the trip, the participants had the opportunity to see religious articles belonging to St. Francis Xavier that aren’t on display to the public.


St. Ignatius used this bowl to collect money for the Society of Jesus.

Terrence Sawyer, J.D., vice president for advancement, saw the bowl Ignatius used for collecting coins when asking people to give to him and to his order, the Society of Jesus. “How humbling to think that the work I do now—asking for money to support Loyola and our students—is continuing that work of St. Ignatius,” Sawyer said.

The three Jesuits on the trip—Fr. Linnane, the Rev. Timothy Brown, S.J., special assistant to the president for mission integration, and the Rev. Jack Dennis, S.J., Loyola Trustee and president of Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Ind.—happened to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of their ordinations while in Rome. They concelebrated Mass at an altar in the Vatican.

“This was not merely a retreat, or a time only for prayer and spiritual growth. It was an unparalleled experience to consider what matters most to me and to this university we are shepherding as committed, dedicated leaders,” Fr. Linnane said.

“I was struck by the numerous opportunities the trip offered for reflection on the history of the Jesuits and their role in education,” Fr. Linnane said.

Before the pilgrimage concluded in Rome, the participants attended a public audience with Pope Francis.

“As you immerse yourself in history and culture and share experiences with your fellow travelers, something powerful happens. You not only engage in your own reflection and self-discovery, but you bond as a group, and you become rejuvenated, centered, and focused in a new way on the origin of the Jesuit mission that is at the heart of the work we do here at Loyola,” he explained.

“You are also able to understand the global perspective of the Jesuit mission and the roots of this whole endeavor.”


The three Jesuits on the trip celebrated Mass at an altar in the Vatican on the 30th anniversary of their ordinations.

Learn more about the inspiration, planning process, and priorities for The Ignatian Compass, the new strategic plan for Loyola University Maryland.

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