The process of an Ignatian education is such that there are certain check-in points, certain moments that form a part of the natural rhythm of a high schoolers life, where reflection seems appropriate. We have built in several such points whereby a student, often with his family, can take some time out of the hectic day-to-day and think about the past as well as the future.
From the Freshman Family Conference where each incoming student and his family has the chance to sit down with one of the adults on campus and take a look at what the future might hold, to the Junior Family Conference and the College Counseling Family Conference where looking back is a way of looking forward, our young men are asked to incorporate - whether they know it explicitly or not - the Ignatian way of education that has been implemented and honed in all Jesuit schools since their advent in the 1500s.
The name for this process - the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, or IPP - is simple in its construction and implementation, yet it is something that, at its best, can become a pattern for a well-lived life. This process is the backbone of a new (to Saint Ignatius) check-in point for our students, and one group of seniors are in the process of being our in-house beta test for what will become a senior tradition.
The term Pedagogical refers to things related to teaching, and since we are calling our graduates to be life-long learners, the process they use for this new experience can become a part of their continuing growth as Men of Ignatius.
The IPP comprises five elements: Context, Experience, Reflection, Action, and Evaluation. If we have ever taken the time to think about our lives in any meaningful way we have, whether we realized it or not, used this approach. Basically, the process asks: Who am I, who was I, and how did I get here? These three questions are essential to the “examined life”, the only type of life that Socrates believed was worth living.
As I type this there have been almost two dozen members of the Class of 2023 who have presented their personal versions of the IPP in what we are calling the Suscipe Project. This new addition, named after the Suscipe Prayer of St. Ignatius, will soon be established as an Ignatius tradition, allowing seniors to examine the past four years of their lives in a systematic way and then to present their findings to several adults, including administrators.
So far, this year’s test group has given presentations that have ranged from very good to superb, and not one student has given the least impression that he was “mailing it in.” These presentations were engaging, creative, and filled with incredibly personal experiences and insights. Considering that these young men were given limited time within their second semester theology class to work on and prepare for these presentations, the results have been nothing short of overwhelming.
Next fall a second test group of seniors - three times as large as this group - will have the opportunity to work for an entire school year, in conjunction with their theology classes, to work on their Suscipe Project. Simultaneously, all of the members of the junior, sophomore, and freshmen classes will begin their Suscipe journeys, and are penciled in for presentations in the Spring of 2025, 2026, and 2027.
The willingness to try new things, the desire to be “open to growth” - one of the themes of our Mission Statement - is what keeps us moving forward day-to-day in a way worthy of a human person fully alive. Even at 137 years old Saint Ignatius can still find new ways to grow, and our hope is that the new Suscipe Project will not only be a capstone of four years at Saint Ignatius, but also a catalyst for a life of learning, especially learning about the Fr. Welsh question: “What does God want from me?”