We are delighted to share this interview with Teresa González Pérez, a professional in the pastoral area of the Southern Zone of Edusci (Foundations SAFA and Loyola), who participated as a facilitator in the Four Key Practices of Ignatian Spirituality course. This course is a facilitator-led global course that offers a new synchronous global learning experience for Ignatian educators. A new course modality that allows members of our global community to learn together in global groups with educators from different Jesuit schools around the world.
Teresa’s participation as a facilitator not only contributed to delivering on the holistic vision of education offered by Jesuit schools but it has also helped us, as a community, to keep growing as contemporary Jesuit educators. Thank you Teresa!
Without further ado here is Teresa’s facilitation experience.
If you are interested in knowing more about our facilitation opportunities, please contact Géllert Merza at email@example.com
Q1. What is your full name, current job title, job responsibilities, school name, city and country where you work?
My full name is Teresa González Pérez. I live in Seville and work in the pastoral area of the Southern Zone of Edusci (Foundations SAFA and Loyola). The Southern Zone comprises 32 schools across Andalusia, Extremadura, and the Canary Islands.
Q2. Where were you born? Can you briefly share with us a special memory from your own biography that relates to your first interest (curiosity) in Christian faith and Jesuit/Ignatian spirituality?
I was born in Seville and attended a school run by the Religious of the Company of Mary. During my university years, it was crucial for me to share with other young believers and venture together to the peripheries. Living firsthand the realization that the world does not offer the same opportunities to everyone was a powerful experience that both shook my faith and renewed it with new questions I had never considered. Along this journey, embracing Ignatian spirituality allowed me to begin formulating those answers. After completing my Psychology degree, I embarked on a two-year international volunteer experience in Bañado Sur, Paraguay, alongside my husband Eduardo. We lived in a community for two years with the Jesuit community of Pa´i roga, nones of the Sacred Hearts, and three other volunteers—two Spaniards and one Paraguayan. It was a marvelous apostolic community, diverse, complex, full of nuances and tensions, dreaming of sowing the Kingdom amid an extremely challenging reality where hope bubbled up abundantly. For two years we lived in community with the Jesuit community of Pa’i roga, with nuns of the Sacred Hearts and three other volunteers – two Spanish and one Paraguayan. It was a wonderful apostolic community, diverse, complex, full of nuances and tensions, dreaming of sowing the seeds of the Kingdom of God in the midst of an extremely difficult reality, where hope was abundant.
Q3. What is your relationship to the Jesuit/Ignatian spirituality? How important is it for your life, your personal ethos, to work for or be part of the Jesuit/Ignatian global community?
I am a member of the CVX, and I strongly live by the question, “What should I do for Christ?” It is not merely a question arising from a sense of ethical obligation. Above all, it is a profound desire to live in harmony, to view the path of discipleship as a journey toward happiness that prompts one to respond to the abundant goodness received. It serves as inspiration to become a more fulfilled, humane, and aware person, conscious of both personal and others’ vulnerabilities. In a broken world that suffers and calls for our participation in its transformation, the desire to be for others emerges.
In the times of St. Ignatius, he envisioned this strongly in the contemplation of the incarnation; his insight was incredible. Today, we renew this consciousness, understanding that interdependence is not limited to a few but is a reality in our globalized world where everything is interconnected.
Being part of the global Ignatian community provides strength for my daily life. In each school, in every process we accompany or initiate in the pastoral area, there is a common thread shared in many parts of the world. Increasingly, the vulnerabilities emerging in various contexts have common features, though with different faces and nuances. However, there are also many glimpses of hope that encourage us to discover how God dwells in all creatures.
Q4. Based on your personal experience, and your participation and facilitation of the Four Key Practices of Ignatian Spirituality course how do you feel it integrates with the global context of the document “Jesuit Schools: A Living Tradition in the 21st Century”?
Facilitating the course has been, for me, a profound experience of global community that engages in shared prayer, collectively seeks, and shares similar wounds, scars, and desires across different contexts. A teacher from Arequipa sheds light on Ignatian principles for a teacher from San Sebastián. The result is leaving the course with a ignited spirit, determined not to be overcome by the bureaucracy and weariness that reality often brings at various moments. I find no better way to bring the Ignatian living tradition to life than through the Faith and Life dialogue illuminated by Ignatian tools.
Q5. What other examples of global education projects or intercultural initiatives can you share with us from your own past in which you have been involved and what would you like to be involved in in the future?
I have had the opportunity to participate in a European meeting of JECSE, which has been incredibly enriching in fostering a global awareness that presents common challenges. Additionally, collaborating in other Ignatian networks through Claver-SJM and CVX in hospitality experiences has given me the chance to witness how social and educational issues are more interconnected today than ever before. In our local context, there have been improvements in the collaboration between Jesuit universities, educational institutions, social entities, and partners on common themes such as hospitality, ecology, or education. At this juncture, these initiatives are opportunities that we can also take to a global level in a context where virtual platforms provide a chance to connect more closely than ever before.
Q6. What has been your experience so far (positive/challenging aspects) in your active participation as a participant and facilitator in the Ignatian Spirituality course cohorts hosted by Educate Magis?
On the positive side, I believe the most valuable aspect is undoubtedly putting a face to other realities and firsthand listening to different contexts and experiences of Ignatian spirituality. In my case, stepping out of the Eurocentric perspective holds great significance. It is a powerful experience of synodality where we feel like brothers and sisters in a simple yet incredibly profound manner. The atmosphere of trust created in small groups allows for a spiritual conversation where the barrier of the screen disappears, and everyone has a voice.
As for challenges, the linguistic hurdle is present; language complexity is both a challenge and an opportunity. Sharing experiences about the Ignatian examen in English with someone from Australia is powerful. There is a palpable sense that transcends linguistic barriers, making it meaningful even if we don’t fully understand every nuance shared.
Another challenge is participation. In the courses I’ve attended, participation has been limited, perhaps due to a fear of the unfamiliar, language barriers, or because we are already saturated with other networks in which we are involved—every factor plays a role.
Q7. Why do you think (if you do) it is important for Jesuit educators to learn about, practice and model Ignatian practices, such as the Examen, Discernment, Spiritual Conversation and being Contemplatives in Action in Jesuit schools around the world?
Spirituality is our shared root. That’s why this course serves as an invaluable approach due to its simplicity, accessibility, and well-structured format. People who are just starting out can participate alongside others who see it as a renewal and repetition of Ignatian practices, creating a rich intersection of different stages in each person’s journey. In essence, we are all sharing the essential aspects. In my experience, whether doing the Spiritual Exercises in Chile, Paraguay, or Spain, it’s all part of the same journey. The Spiritual Exercises provide a common and solid foundation that serves as a framework for common action, particularly in our case, educational action.
It has been amazing in my experience to witness a shared perspective on reality and a shared commitment to addressing it. This shared understanding enables us to find paths to implement various projects. In this course, providing these key elements virtually is very valuable. These keys not only remain conceptual but also integrate the experiential, prayerful, and practical aspects of Ignatian tools, seen as practices rather than theories. This makes it especially relevant for working with educators because they live these practices and can consequently share them. We can only transmit faith when we live it, and this course is a significant contribution to shared faith experience.
Q8. What is your favourite quote/phrase related to Ignatian Spirituality, from a historical or a modern figure that you admire?
It would be challenging to choose just one, but if I have to, “Love in all things” from the contemplation to attain love stands out. I believe St. Ignatius was ahead of his time in many aspects, and undoubtedly, the cosmic dimension of this contemplation—connecting with all of creation—is increasingly inspiring in a world that requires a perspective of integral ecology and global citizenship with a face, inhabited, and pregnant with the God of history.