Conference 2018

The Spiritual Exercises in a fractured world

13th – 17th August 2018 at Hinsley Hall, Leeds.

It is an extraordinary paradox that while our world has never been better connected, its fractured nature is never more evident. The conference explored the relevance of the Exercises in this context from the global environmental scale, through collective morality (or lack thereof) to individual brokenness.

Read a report of the conference here


Nick Austin SJ: Discerning in the Grey – Spiritual Accompaniment in a morally fragmented world

Today we live in a morally fragmented world. We are continually exposed to contradictory moral perspectives through the media, and find wise moral leadership increasingly lacking in those who hold positions of authority in society. Many find ‘truth’ increasingly elusive in the echo-chambers of facebook and Twitter, and experience the old certainties of Christian moral teaching to be less clear than before. The complexity of family relationships, questions of social responsibility in a globalized world, and the ecological crisis, leave us in a space of moral uncertainty. How can we best accompany people when the contemporary moral GPS is so disoriented?

Nick Austin SJ is a Jesuit priest who teaches Theological Ethics at Heythrop College, University of London. His work has focused on the tradition of the virtues, the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and the connections between ethics and spirituality. He practices spiritual direction and is a regular guest director as St Beuno’s Jesuit Retreat Centre.

Julia MacDonald: The Exercises and a fractured environment

We are, in so many ways, in crisis in our world – at the level of the personal, socio-economic and ecological. Many say we are at an existential point of ‘Great Turning’. Julia will reflect on how, at this critical point of existential choice, the Exercises can offer a much needed container for greater integration, inspiration and active discernment as humanity seeks a sustainable path.

Julia is currently Director of St. Bede’s Pastoral Centre in York. She is trained in Ignatian Spirituality with a particular interest in cosmology/ecology and contemporary application of the Spiritual Exercises.

& Edel McClean: Are the Exercises really for everyone? Spiritual Accompaniment in a fractured society

For Ignatius and his first companions, the insights of the Exercises informed everything they said and did, and the insights of life informed the giving of the Exercises. How far do we share such an integrated approach? How do we allow the dynamic of the Exercises to inform and transform us within and beyond our practice of spiritual direction?

Edel McClean is a spiritual director, trainer, facilitator and coach. She is based in Bury in Greater Manchester and currently employed in the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network of the Methodist Church.


There will be liturgical celebrations each day and a range of workshops will be offered by participants and speakers. Shirley Taylor, our Liturgist, will offer times of prayerful reflection throughout the conference. Shirley is a school chaplain, liturgist, psychotherapist, Ignatian director and supervisor.