USML launches a new post-graduate certificate in Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.

Ignatian Spirituality the Focus of New
Graduate Certificate and Doctoral of Ministry Concentration

University of St. Mary of the Lake (USML) is launching new ministry programming focused on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Students may take four graduate courses as a stand-alone certificate in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or as part of a concentration in the Doctor of Ministry degree.

This program is designed to help students appropriate, strengthen and integrate the charisms associated with the art of contemplative spiritual direction in the living tradition of Ignatian prayer and discernment of spirits.

Recognizing the unique training Christian Leaders require for accompanying others through the Spiritual Exercises, the courses are fashioned to engender in-depth understanding and knowledge of Ignatian contemplative spiritual direction and retreat ministry. Participants will be equipped to apply this fruitful art to their ministerial calling, be it parish work, Christian formation or beyond.

USML will offer a combination of online instruction, in-person one-week intensives, and residential retreat practica, which take place at the Joseph and Mary Retreat House on the beautiful suburban USML campus. The multi-facet learning approach will support students in achieving their goals despite their busy schedules.

“We are excited to offer this unique post-graduate certificate program, which provides one of the most advanced programs in the Spiritual Exercises in the country,” said Dr. Theodore James Whapham, Dean of the School of Parish Leadership and Evangelization at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. “Dr Hilliard, Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, at USML has worked with faculty to develop an outstanding program that will help serve the needs of the whole church.”

The one-week intensives take place in late June and mid-January, Monday through Friday. Retreat practica take place for 10 days each July for two years. In the third summer of supervised learning, the 30-day format for the Spiritual Exercises takes place in July.  As an alternative, students can complete the program through supervision of St. Ignatius’ Annotation No. 19 – The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life. This takes place in the participant’s local ministerial context for those unable to complete the complete 30-day retreat in person.

Students interested in applying require:

  • A master’s degree in theology or its equivalent;
  • A Certificate in Christian Spiritual Direction or in-depth mentoring in Christian Spiritual Direction.
  • Additionally, Doctor of Ministry students will need to meet the prerequisites of the program, which requires a Master of Divinity or Master of Theology degree.

Students from other faith traditions may apply and be admitted but will learn the knowledge and skills in spiritual direction and pastoral ministry that are in harmony with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

For more information, contact Dr. Paul Hilliard, Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at

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