Living and Leading in the Deep – It Takes a Village

September 17, 2023

It Takes A Village: Forming Community to Found A New Ministry

Becky Eldredge does me a great honor considering me a midwife for Ignatian Ministries. A midwife is one who accompanies a woman during and after pregnancy, present during labor and delivery, to help her bring a new soul into the world. It has been a joy to play that role for Ignatian Ministries.

In the summer of 2021 I agreed to help Becky and her team grapple with a growing recognition that God was up to something that they needed and wanted to pay attention to. I was aware of seeds planted over the years through Becky’s ministry that started to germinate in 2020 during COVID. Seedlings were now sprouting, along with a realization that a different business model was needed to sustain this new ministry taking root.

A key part of discernment is helping each other perceive how the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives, becoming aware of what God is already doing so that we can do more of that. The summer of 2022 the team listened deeply to many of you share gratitude, hopes, and desires for Ignatian experiences of prayer and formation. Now they were seeking God’s grace of clarity to take the best next steps. 

September 12, 2022, midwife apron on and sleeves rolled up to hold discernment space, I was praying with the team to see what was already unfolding and for insights on a way forward. They were synthesizing data and wrestling with emerging options when in a Mary-Magdalene-moment I was moved to inquire, are you seeing what God is already bringing to birth? Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, through her profound encounter with the resurrected Jesus, is able to help others recognize him. That day she helped us know Jesus’ real presence as the rollercoaster of emotions we were riding shifted from angst to enthusiasm. The team was freed by the Holy Spirit to name and claim what to do next: it was time to birth and raise a nonprofit.

I suspect St. Paul agrees that the wisdom of raising children also applies to ministries – it takes a village held together in Christ. As he said to the community at Ephesus:

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22)

Last February the team asked for my expertise to assist with 501(c)3 incorporation. Since then we have been laying foundations for a virtual village, a dwelling place for women and men committed to the mission to share personal and professional resources to help raise Ignatian Ministries, going deeper in Christ together. 

I’m excited to serve on Ignatian Ministries’ founding board, a community of Jesus’ disciples forming to govern and guide the work. Directors are listening deeply with the team to follow Jesus’ lead so that Ignatian Ministries can share ways of praying, accompanying, and discerning how to use the gifts St. Ignatius gave to the people of God through his Spiritual Exercises. With fidelity and creativity to the Ignatian tradition, we hope to renew the church, helping others recognize the Risen Christ in their lives so they, too, can share his good news. 

Mary Magdalene and other founding women and men said yes to Jesus’ invitation to follow him, putting their resources into building a community that became the early church. We invite you to be part of the village raising Ignatian Ministries. Explore the website. Register for personal renewal and professional development offerings. Learn more about the collectives and community. Share your email to continue to receive Into the Deep reflections. And as you are moved and able, consider a financial contribution. All these ways of support, most importantly your prayers, enable Ignatian Ministries to grow into our mission and vision.

With St. Paul, “I give thanks to my God always, remembering you in my prayers, as I hear of the love and the faith you have in the Lord Jesus and for all the holy ones, so that your partnership in the faith may become effective in recognizing every good there is in us that leads to Christ.” (Philomen 1:4-6)

Going Deeper:

  • Act on one or more of the suggestions Jenene makes above to explore the website, learn more about collectives and community, make sure you are on our mailing list and if you are able and feel you are able to do so, make a contribution to Ignatian Ministries. All of those links are pasted above or can be found on our new website,

Photo by Farhan Abas on Unsplash

Jenéne Francis is an aspiring contemplative in action who finds writing creative non-fiction and short fiction a fruitful spiritual practice. She also enjoys adapting and offering the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius for days of reflection and retreats. Jenéne recently retired from the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus after many years supporting Jesuits and colleagues who serve retreat houses, spirituality programs, parishes, and as hospital chaplains and other pastoral ministers. Having spent her first career at the Procter and Gamble Company in product development and manufacturing, followed by more than 20 years in Jesuit ministry, Jenéne gets great satisfaction offering her engineer’s head and poet’s heart for “the greater glory of God.”

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