McDonough School of Business
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GEMBA Students Learn Ignatian Traditions in Barcelona

In September, members of the Georgetown-ESADE Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) program toured Ignatian landmarks near Barcelona to better incorporate Jesuit values into their studies. Led by Fr. Ron Anton, S.J., the students visited several places of relevance to St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, including Sacred Heart Parish, Santa Maria del Mar, Montserrat, and Manresa.

GEMBA, a master’s program from Georgetown University and ESADE Business School, provides students with the global knowledge, skills, and perspectives necessary to thrive in today’s business environment.

“Executive Education programs prepare global business professionals with a clear sense of purposeful leadership. In the tradition of the Society of Jesus, we educate leaders of the world, for the world,” said Paul Almeida, deputy dean for executive education and innovation. “This excursion shows our commitment to incorporating meaningful Jesuit experiences into our programs.”

The students first visited Barcelona’s Sacred Heart Parish, where the sword that St. Ignatius left at the feet of Our Lady of Montserrat is on display.

“The sword was a powerful symbol of the life of knighthood and chivalry [Ignatius] had left behind and the life of a pilgrim he was beginning to embrace in his deep determination to perform great deeds for God,” said Fr. Sean Carroll, S.J., a student in the GEMBA program.

While traveling to Santa Maria del Mar, the church where Ignatius begged for alms, the students passed by the site of the house where Ignatius had lived and the site of the school where he had studied Latin.

The group then took a bus to Montserrat, a mountain range just outside of Barcelona that is home to a Benedictine monastery and Our Lady of the Montserrat. In 1522, Ignatius stood vigil before Our Lady and abandoned his noble garments and sword, signifying his dedication to God. It also is the site of his famous three-day confession. The students walked the grounds of Montserrat before taking a tram to a higher part of the mountain.

Students traveled to Manresa next, where Ignatius lived for many months in a local hospital. They walked along the Cardener River before being led by Fr. Lluis Magriña, former superior of the Jesuits in Catalonia and current director of the Centre of Spirituality in Manresa, to the Cave where Ignatius was known to pray.

“We put our hands on the rock that [Ignatius] had touched and saw the two crosses he had etched into the rock, out of deep desire to experience God’s forgiveness and healing,” Carroll said. “A palpable spirit of silence and grace filled the space, in our awareness that we were in the same place where Ignatius had sought and encountered God so powerfully.”

Before returning to their hotel in Barcelona, the students visited the Centre of Spirituality, including a chapel where interreligious dialogues often take place.

“We all agreed that we had spent a powerful day together walking in the steps of Ignatius, pilgrims like him on the way,” Carroll said.


–Lindsay Reilly