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The Ignatian Center in the World

Immersion Programs & Locations Jean Donovan Fellowship

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Immersion experiences, both local and global, are designed to help participants see the world with new eyes, to recognize the unjust suffering of marginalized communities and individuals, and to allow those experiences to inform their vocational discernment. In the words of Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, the Ignatian Center strives to empower immersion participants "to let the reality of this world into their lives, so they can learn to feel it, think about it critically, respond to its suffering, and engage it constructively." These immersion experiences, and the profound reflection to which they naturally give rise, are privileged moments of vocational discernment during which participants are uniquely invited to consider their place in the world. 

The four pillars that guide our immersion programs are:


  • UNITE with individuals from all walks of life

    CREATE potential lifelong friendships

    ENGAGE with communities with limited access to wealth, power, and privilege

  • LEARN about the Ignatian Spiritual Tradition

    EXPERIENCE a faith that does justice, and explore what it means to find God in all things

    REFLECT on and investigate questions of meaning and purpose in the midst of the world's brokenness

  • ACCOMPANY those on the margins who are experiencing various forms of injustice

    BUILD relationships, and see, experience, and understand a reality apart from your own

    DISCERN how to respond in action

  • CULTIVATE authentic, just relationships

    REFLECT on the value placed on material goods in your life, the local community, and the greater world

    EMBRACE a spirituality of simplicity, and learn to do less in order to be more

The Immersion Process

After applying and being selected for an immersion trip you will participate in the pre-immersion preparation process. Immersion teams will meet 4-5 times in the weeks leading up to the immersion (Mondays 5:30-7:15pm) and all participants will attend a weekend retreat intended for team building and reflection on themes that will be deepened through the immersion itself. Immersion participants commit to attending all team meetings and the pre-immersion retreat. These are opportunities for your team to reflect, share and get to know one another, to learn more about the community you will be visiting and the current issues facing that community and to pass on details on trip preparation, travel, etc.

*Please note: as of fall 2017, all immersion related meetings prep meetings and events (aside from retreat) will take place on Mondays from 5:30-7:15pm.*

On your immersion you will be accompanied by a student Immersion Coordinator and/or an Immersion Companion (SCU faculty, staff, or graduate student). Your immersion team will be hosted by a local organization that will take care of the logistics for your stay. Each immersion varies in terms of what activities you will participate in so please be open and flexible. During your immersion you will have the opportunity engage with the local community and learn about the issues facing its members, as well as connect with the other immersion participants and share in reflection about the impact of  the experience.

While the immersion has ended, the full experience is a journey that is never truly over. More than an end goal, we believe that the immersion itself is a starting point for ongoing reflective and critical engagement of the realities of our local and global community. For this reason, participants commit to meeting at least 3 times upon return from the trip to continue processing, sharing stories, and determining next steps toward integrating the immersion experience into life at Santa Clara and beyond. Immersion companions, Ignatian staff members, and other members of the Santa Clara community are here as a resource to assist as you integrate your immersion into post-immersion life. 

Our students reflect on the time they spent during their immersion trip to Nicaragua nearly 3 years ago.


Immersions - Article Highlights

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Jesuit Education for Life

This past Spring Break, the Ignatian Center's Immersion Program sent students to Appalachia, the Arizona Border, Dominican Republic, and Redwood Monastery. These vastly different experiences resulted in a shared passion to do more. Whether it's a continued fight for immigration rights or a renewed sense of self-care and reflection, these students are well on their way to living out their Jesuit education for life.

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Humanizing Homelessness

Mandi Sit '20 first encountered the Ignatian Center when she decided to sign up for the San Jose First-Year Immersion trip the summer before starting at Santa Clara University. To find out how that trip as well as her two additional immersion experiences have had such an impact on her time at SCU, read Mandi's interview.