The Catholic University of America

Dissertation Defense: Rev. William M. Watson, SJ

Final Examination of

Rev. William M. Watson, S.J

for the degree of

Doctor of Ministry

Monday, April 27, 2009

1:30 p.m., Caldwell Room 125-15

Committee in Charge

Chair: Dr. William Dinges, PhD

Secretary: Dr. Robert Miller, II, S.F.O., Ph.D

Director: Rev. Donald Heet, O.S.F.S, D.Min.

Reader: Rev. Raymond Studzinski, O.S.B., Ph.D.

Reader: Rev. John Mossi, S.J., D. Min.

Summary of Coursework

TRS 852 Pastoral Theology for D Min Students

TRS 854A Use of Small Groups in Parish Ministry

TRS 756 Pastoral Application to Adult Spiritual Formation

TRS 850 D. Min Pastoral Supervision

TRS 855C Principles and Practices of Adult Religious Education

TRS 855D Pastoral Planning

TRS 735A Pastoral Ethics

TRS 750C Major Authors in Christian Spirituality

TRS 855E Doctor of Ministry Seminar

TRS 977A Doctor of Ministry Project Guidance

TRS 977 Dissertation - Doctoral

STM 593 Liturgical Spirituality ( Seattle University)

RELI 690.04 Ignatian Discernment (Gonzaga University)


A New Iteration of the Examination of Conscience that Incorporates Principles of Discernment and Insights from Michael Brown's, Presence Process.

William M. Watson, S.J.

Director: Donald Heet, D.Min.

St. Ignatius Loyola developed two methods of examination of conscience, general and particular, that formed the backbone of much of his pastoral efforts and those of the early Jesuits. However, in our post-modern context, his methods have proven difficult for people to engage and have fallen out of favor, even among religious. This study analyzes what, in particular, makes his methods difficult, why they may have fallen our of favor, and how they might be updated to make them as vital and relevant to modern ministry as they were in Ignatius day. The study's research posits a new theory on the development of Ignatius' Examen methods, general and particular, as well as a new theory on the development of his discernment principles. The study proposes that Ignatius' progressive conversion as detailed in the saint's Autobiography reveals not only an Ignatian Paradigm that discloses the outlines of the Spiritual Exercises and the Examen methods, but also reveals a vital link between the two methods of Examen and the two sets of Ignatian discernment principles. Further research utilizing the writings of eight influential post-modern Examen commentators reveals additional challenges that must be addressed and incorporated in the construction of a newly revamped Examen method.

The project part of this study contains an entirely new "iteration" of the classic Ignatian Examen called the Book of Life that incorporates the changes the research indicates and a new version of Ignatius' discernment principles. It also contains and insights and strategies from Michael Brown's Presence Process that update and intensify the critical Ignatian particular Examen method. The Book of Life method was tested for ten weeks on both Roman Catholics and an interdenominational group of Christians.

The lasting value of the research and the project is twofold: first, survey data on the test groups reveals that the vitality of the Ignatian Examen in the Book of Life format has been demonstrated as an effective tool for spiritual growth, not only for Roman Catholics, but for many different Christian denominations. Second, the new theories on the origins of the Ignatian Examen and discernment methods, and the existence of an Ignatian Paradigm in the Autobiography, can provide much needed support and additional strategies for advancing the project of Ignatian spirituality in both pastoral and institutional settings.