As a product of more than 10 years of Jesuit education, I often found myself searching for ways to bring Ignatian principles and discernment into what I was doing at home, work, and in my community. Enter the Jesuit Collaborative (TJC), a non-profit organization helping people draw closer to God through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Todd Kenny, SJ, a former colleague who came to be a friend and spiritual mentor, was the first to introduce me to Contemplative Leaders in Action (CLA), a program of TJC. Todd challenged me to listen to my desire to live a more Ignatian-centered life and suggested I join CLA as a step in that direction.

The 14 other members of my cohort supported and challenged me to become a better decision maker, leader, and collaboratorStarted in New York City in 2008, CLA is a two-year spiritual formation and leadership development program for young professionals in their late 20’s and 30’s. CLA is now offered by TJC in five cities along the East Coast: Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Atlanta. TJC also partners with Seattle University and the Loyola Institute for Spirituality, who sponsor CLA in Seattle and Orange County, CA. CLA directors from all seven cities dedicate themselves to the program, working collaboratively to develop best practices and programming with monthly conference calls and an annual weekend retreat.

In my time in CLA, the development of a strong community of peers became one of the most important features of the program. The 14 other members of my cohort supported and challenged me to become a better decision maker, leader, and collaborator. CLA also introduced me to a wonderful community of program alumni, mentors and advisors. Conversations and support from my mentor were pivotal in expanding my network and discovering new ways to engage Ignatian Spirituality in my work-life. Connecting with other CLA alumni led to new friendships, as well partnerships across Jesuit organizations and institutions. As an alumnus, there are even more opportunities that I have yet to take advantage of, including CLA’s Intercity Retreat, participation in TJC conferences and regional events, and so many more.

CLA also proved crucial when I found myself in the midst of a job change. In fact, discerning a new career path is a common result of participation in CLA. Looking for work in a mission-based organization at the time, I sought out an opportunity with the Collaborative. I now work in the advancement office, managing communications and marketing while also working in fundraising.

To learn more about CLA and The Jesuit Collaborative, visit us online at: jesuitcollaborative.org/cla.

This is a guest post written by Christopher Martin, Assistant Director for Advancement at The Jesuit Collaborative. Photo by The Jesuit Collaborative.