The Spirituality Program for Adults (S.P.A.) is the umbrella organization for all Ignatian spirituality offerings for parents, alumni, employees, neighbors, and friends of the Saint Ignatius community. The S.P.A. team works together day in and day out to plan retreats, prayer services, and spiritual direction opportunities geared towards adults to explore and deepen their faith. As part of Saint Ignatius High School’s Women’s History Month Celebration, we are proud to feature our first Wildcat Woman of the Week, Mrs. Amy McKenna, Director of S.P.A.
Amy McKenna has been a key member of the S.P.A. team since 2016, but her involvement with this department’s work did not begin as an employee. McKenna’s oldest and youngest sons, William ’10 and Michael ’16, attended Saint Ignatius High School. During their time as students, McKenna was introduced to S.P.A. programming. “I participated in the eight-week retreat, like a lot of parents. That sparked in me a desire to continue to seek what God was seeking in me.”
After completing the eight-week retreat, McKenna completed the full Spiritual Exercises with Fr. Jim Lewis, S.J. over the course of 32 weeks. She then felt called to enter The Ignatian Spirituality Institute at John Carroll University and later enrolled in their M.A. program for Theology and Religious Studies. In the midst of this formal instruction, McKenna started interning with the S.P.A. team as a Spiritual Director. “I hung around until they hired me,” she laughed.
The work of the S.P.A. team is nothing short of dynamic. In addition to planning and executing retreats centered around Ignatian spirituality, a significant element of their work is facilitating spiritual outreach to Saint Ignatius employees. From planning the annual Faculty and Staff Retreat, to organizing the five-year Employee Faith Formation Program, to offering daily and weekly email reflections, S.P.A. provides both hands-on and passive opportunities for members of the Saint Ignatius community to deepen their spiritual lives. “One of the graces of this past year is that we had to think outside the box, figuring out all kinds of ways we can engage with our faculty and staff without adding to their stresses and workloads.”
Of everything her role entails, McKenna’s favorite aspect is providing individual spiritual direction. “Being with someone as they journey in their relationship with God, Jesus, and themselves is such an honored place to be, and it’s what I love to do.”
McKenna is very thankful for her team’s hard work and the positive impact they’re had on her personally, as well as the Saint Ignatius community as a whole. “I love the folks I get to work with here in my department. It really fell into place that I work with brilliant Spiritual Directors who are theologically astute, but more importantly, are wonderful people. We get into so many great theological discussions-- I learn something new from them every day.”
McKenna’s main goal for the future is to “continue to listen to God and be there for other people. If I, and my entire team, can stay centered on that and be present to what the gospel teaches us, we can continue to add our voices to the broader community as proclaimers of God’s message.”