By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
My first exposure to Ignatian pilgrimages came during the summer after my freshman year at Fordham University. As a member of the University Choir, I had the unique opportunity to travel to Spain and trace the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola by foot, by bus and by song. While I still don’t know if Ignatius was much of a vocalist himself, I like to think that he would have gotten a kick out of hearing a concert sung by American college students in his native town, nearly 500 years after his birth.
For ten days, we traveled from Barcelona to Manresa, Montserrat, Salamanca, Toledo, Zaragoza and Loyola, before concluding our tour in Madrid. Along the way, we performed several concerts at churches and concert halls, where we sang both sacred hymns and traditional folk songs in English, Latin, Spanish and even Basque! I still remember the name of the Basque song we performed, Agur Jaunak (“Greetings, Sirs!”), which has always stayed with me. Writing this editor’s note prompted me to look up the meaning of the lyrics in English:
Greetings ‘and a half’
We all are God´s creation
You and us too.
Here we are.
Basque Dialectal Text
Danak Jainkoak eiñak gire
zuek eta bai gu ere.
I realize now, fourteen years later, why this little song has always stuck with me. Not only did the song make its debut in the Sanctuary of Loyola in recognition of St. Ignatius’ Feast Day one hundred years ago, it also reflects care for the person (cura personalis) in the lyrics of the middle section: “We all are God’s creation, You and us too.” Cura personalis is one of my favorite aspects of Ignatian spirituality, one that I always felt when I was at Fordham and still appreciate so much today, now working for a Jesuit organization.
Though I intentionally sought a Jesuit education for college, I don’t think I fully understood the history of Ignatius and the Society of Jesus until I went to Spain. Learning about his studies firsthand in Barcelona and Salamanca, praying in the sanctuary at Loyola, and hiking through the mountains of Montserrat helped me to appreciate the extraordinary life of a man who gave himself to God, and continues to make an impact on countless people every day.
I remain grateful for the opportunity to have taken that trip, which remains one of my fondest memories of my time at Fordham. As a self-described “choir nerd,” there is no better feeling than singing in harmony with a talented group of individuals who share my own love for sacred music! Today, I am still in touch with my choir director, Rob Minotti, and remain good friends with several of my choirmates. And now in DC, I am blessed to sing as a member of the Schola Cantorum at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, where it is not unusual to find local Jesuits saying daily Mass!
My Ignatian pilgrimage is just one of many that you will read about in this issue of Connections. We are delighted to share stories from four Jesuit colleges and universities, as well as reflections from noted author Chris Lowney and the talented David Inczauskis, S.J., a contributor from The Jesuit Post. This issue will conclude the Fall 2018 issues of Connections and we will return with a new one (and a slightly updated format!) in January.
All of us at AJCU wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!