A rich history of Ignatian Spirituality in Queensland

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A rich history of Ignatian Spirituality in Queensland

Ignatian Spirituality in Queensland has its home at JISA Faber surrounded by beautiful gumtrees in the Brisbane suburb of Bardon. This article tells the story of Faber’s beginnings to now, where there is a team of over 25 spiritual directors.

Faber was launched in Brisbane on 4th August 2006 and situated in the grounds at St Paul’s Theological College, Banyo.

Faber was named after St Peter Faber SJ (1506-1546), one of the first companions of St Ignatius at the University of Paris (1528-1534) and the first among them to be ordained a priest. Peter Faber was also considered by Ignatius as an even better Giver of the Spiritual Exercises than Ignatius himself!

Chris Gleeson SJ was the founding Director of Faber in 2007.  The Centre began offering a variety of retreats and spiritual programs, based on Ignatian Spirituality and adapted to the different needs of people. Five pioneers of the Spiritual Exercises in Queensland who also shared in the first activities of the Faber Centre were John Borger, John Drury SJ, Delphine O’Shea mss, Vince Hurley SJ and Pat Clouston rc.

The amalgamation of St Paul’s Theological College with ACU at the end of 2008 meant that Faber had to vacate its home at Banyo and find a new location. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart and Stuartholme School came to the rescue offering a new home in Brisbane in a spacious section of their property at Freer’s Farm, in the former Freer’s Potato Chip Factory in Bardon. Faber moved to this new location in February 2009 and was officially opened in April.  It is situated in a bushland setting at the foot of Mt Coot-tha, opposite the Slaughter Creek Falls Picnic area.

Nearby creek bed in the foothills of Mt Coot-tha

During retreats and quiet days, participants can wander the walking tracks taking in the majestic beauty of Australian gum trees and ancient rock formations while listening to the songs of the birds and the sounds of water trickling over silent stone. Since no overnight accommodation is available at Faber, most residential retreats are offered at the archdiocesan Santa Teresa Spirituality Centre.

In January 2011, Chris Gleeson SJ moved to a new appointment in Melbourne and John Reilly SJ was appointed the new director of Faber. In 2017 after John passed away,  and Elizabeth Kerr, took over the directorship which was then handed over to Mary Robson in 2020. In July 2020, Faber transitioned into the newly formed national body, Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia (JISA).

The JISA Faber Team consists of twenty-five lay people and religious who are professionally trained and qualified in the giving of the Exercises and Spiritual Direction in the Ignatian Tradition.

JISA Faber currently offers the Full Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in daily life over 30+ weeks, and The First Spiritual Exercises over 4 weeks in daily life, plus individual spiritual direction in the Ignatian tradition.  A team of Directors offers individually guided retreats, always adaptable for people in various situations and their diverse needs.  Also available are spiritual formation programs, seminars, workshops, outreach programs to parishes and schools and other organisations, in regional and rural areas throughout Queensland.

If you are interested in the Spiritual Exercises, the First Spiritual Exercises or spiritual direction in Queensland, contact JISA on 1300 EXAMEN (1300 392 636) or at info@jisa.org.au and we will put you in touch with our JISA Faber team.