Recent studies on the attitudes and beliefs of today’s young adults reflect what observation reveals; that most youth today form their ideas of right and wrong from peers and a dominant culture that is increasingly indifferent to religious belief and relativistic in outlook. Ignatian Spirituality is uniquely suited for values formation.
Cultural Challenges and Opportunities
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has characterized the culture’s challenges: “the confusion and multiplicity of messages, the speed of changes and situations, make particularly difficult for our contemporaries to put their lives in order and respond with joy to the call that the Lord makes to every one of us.” And Pope Francis is strongly proclaiming that we need to share the joy of our faith with the world.
While each generation presents tremendous challenges for evangelization, there is also great opportunity. The good news is that most young adults rely on affective and emotional information from life experiences to form their judgments. They listen to their hearts.
The Ignatian Response
Ignatius’ spirituality and discernment techniques rely on affective information to help individuals understand the difference between right and wrong. We can train people to listen deeply to their hearts—their consciences—to distinguish the ideas and inspirations coming from the Lord of Life and those Ignatius describes as coming from the enemy of human nature.
Our Research Goals for Youth
- To test curricular exercises that can effectively train our youth and young adults to listen to the affective data of their minds and hearts.
- To test programs that can help educate youth and young adults to know the difference between thoughts, words and deeds that bring hope, peace and healing and those that leave one dry, dissatisfied and empty.
- To research best-in-class curricular exercises that awaken the spiritual compass of our youth and young adults, pointing to God’s truth that is waiting to be discovered like the Scriptural “pearl of great price.”
Our Research Goals for K-8 Teachers
- To support research with multiple groups of K-8 Catholic teachers who will engage the Forty Weeks prayer.
- To have teachers formed by Ignatius’ discernment principles work with SSI’s trained researchers to transform what they are learning in their own lives into curricular exercises for the youth they teach.
- To facilitate an SSI group of K-8 faculty who will continue to expand our catechetical resources for K-8 Conscience Formation.
Sacred Story Youth Program
In September 2013, SSI began research with K-8 faculty from the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Diocese of Spokane. These faculty members have learned the prayer exercises and discernment techniques of St. Ignatius and considered how these might be translated into simple, effective curricular programs for the classroom. SSI’s team, in cooperation with our trained catechists, is shaping these ideas into a set of dynamic teaching tools for K-8 teachers and students.
As the K-8 Conscience Formation research project concludes, the materials developed will be available on our website for K-8 faculty, schools and Catholic dioceses. This project is being funded by private donors and organizations like the Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
Listen to a sample (Vimeo) of Sacred Story Prayer for Youth.
Learn about our Sacred Story Youth A School Built to Last Program.
If you would like to help build the future of our Church, we invite you to support us in our work.