The ripple effect of the First Spiritual Exercises

The ripple effect of the First Spiritual Exercises

“I see the thread of friendship in the rippling out of this ministry internationally, friends tell friends; easy very grounded human conversations!”

Frances Tilly, spiritual director, giver of the Spiritual Exercises and coordinator of Mission Formation at Jesuit and Ignatian Spiritualty Australia shares her experiences of the First Spiritual Exercises (FSE) internationally.

“I didn’t go looking for the First Spiritual Exercises, they found me, the road came up to meet me. God was seeking me.” Frances participated in her first FSE retreat on Friendship at Campion while she was studying to give the Full Spiritual Exercises in 2012.

“It was so transforming… my relationship with Jesus my friend, my relationship with creation and the earth, the story of earth, evolution and God through it all. That was huge.” Frances remembers.

“Friendship is an ongoing theme for me spiritually and in Ignatian Spiritualty, it keeps presenting…”

Frances met Michael Hansen SJ and accepted an invitation to join a team to train and then offer the FSE. Over 120 people were trained in this early stage across Australia with teams of FSE Givers emerging nationally in different regional teams.

Frances’ first international experience came in 2014 at an Ignatian Spiritualty conference in Hong Kong where a group of Australians were invited. “From here the ministry grew in Hong Kong with a group of people staying in touch, being trained and then giving the FSE. It was a ripple effect.”

Jump to 2016 and another international experience for Frances was in Canada. A group of women in Saskatchewan Province who were leaders of an ecumenical community including spiritual directors, found FSE via the website

“They prayed the retreat there and contacted us to network. We learned so much from this experience, and we continue to learn from receivers of the FSE, the activity of God, reciprocity and learning together.” Frances said.

The thread of friendship has wound its way through this and many other international experiences of giving the FSE for Frances. “We have been friends in the Lord, in great diversity, generosity, creativity, good will and kindness. That’s how it began for me and how it has continued.”

“It a mark of our ministry, it’s a wide gate and that’s friendship isn’t it? There’s always a seat at the table.” Frances reflects. “This takes us back to the early Jesuits and lay people; they must have had deep friendships to continue in those early days. And now I see it in the rippling out of this ministry internationally, friends tell friends; easy very grounded human conversations!


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