mike graham teaching

Retreat Ministry Formation

When is the Practicum?

The practicum will be held Monday, July 15 - Friday, July 19, 2024.

Register HERE
Who will participate?

This practicum is designed to form lay persons, Jesuits, priests, religious sisters and brothers, involved in or moving into the ministries of parish missions, days of reflection, or preached retreats rooted in the Ignatian spiritual tradition.

A pre-requisite for participants is each will have made the complete Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius (19th annotation or 30 Day retreat.) Participants who have made 7+ years of annual weekend preached retreats at a Jesuit retreat center may also be considered.


The practicum is an intensive workshop that explores aspects of retreat planning, unfolding of Ignatian themes, and offering talks and presentations that lead others to encounter and prayer. The practicum offers insights on the following:

  • Formulating and framing presentations and talks rooted in the dynamics of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
  • Developing themes and flow of presentation based on the framework of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
  • Identifying audiences: Who is the audience? What do they need? What help do you have to offer?
  • Exploring best practices for the use of scripture, handouts, technology, artwork, music, liturgy and sacramental symbols in retreat design

During the practicum participants will:

  • Attend plenary presentations
  • Work in small groups and individually
  • Formulate and write presentations/talks
  • Meet one-to-one with experienced mentors
Registration Deadline 

Registrations will be taken until June 14th, 2024 or until all spots are filled. We recommend registering soon as spots are filling up fast. 


The cost for this week-long practicum, including a private room and meals, is $995.

We are also offering a commuter option for $795. The commuter option does not include daily breakfast or a private room. Commuters should plan to arrive Monday evening before dinner between 4 and 6 pm, and then arrive between 8:30-9 am Tuesday morning until Friday morning and leave between 8 and 8:30 pm in the evenings each day. Please note the retreat ends Friday after lunch. 

The Environment

Bellarmine retreat house sits on 80-acres of lovely property providing an atmosphere for creative, focused work and quiet time to listen for inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Outdoor spaces include walking trails, various prayer gardens, a gazebo shrine, stations of the cross, as well as a few patios, and many outdoor chairs in sun and shade. Bellarmine has two libraries, a resource center, two chapels, and a dining room to enjoy wholesome meals.  

Each day you will also have the option to participate in the Eucharist, and time to:

  • Pray and reflect between presentations
  • Write drafts of your own retreat talks or reflections for presentation 
  • Explore Bellarmine's sacred spaces

Your stay includes daily meals (starting with Monday dinner and ending with Friday lunch).

Register HERE


Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House

420 W County Line Road, Barrington, Illinois 60010 | Phone: 847-381-1261

Carol Atwell Ackels

Carol Atwell Ackels

Carol is Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute. A spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition she serves as retreat director of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius in various formats. She offers weekend retreats, the Exercises in Everyday Life, and one-to-one directed retreats at Jesuit retreat houses across the United States.  Carol regularly gives programs and days of reflection to parish and Church groups. She launched and continues to give workshops to shape persons, Jesuits and lay, who are moving into retreat ministry and spiritual companioning in the Ignatian tradition. Appointed by the Provincial, Carol served six years on the bi-province Commission on Ministry--the group that discerns long-range planning for apostolic work of the Jesuits and their colleagues. Carol co-authored with Joe Tetlow, S.J. the twelve week Ignatian retreat Finding Christ in the World, and worked with Anthony Borrow, S.J. developing the Toward Greater Freedom retreat for parents at Jesuit College Prep of Dallas. Carol holds a J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law, Dallas and a Master of Art in Theology and Leadership from Gonzaga University, Spokane. She and her husband reside in Dallas and are the parents of five adult children.

Fr. Michael Graham, SJ

Fr. Michael Graham, SJ

A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Fr. Michael Graham, SJ holds degrees from Cornell College, the University of Michigan and the Weston School of Theology (now, the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry). He entered the Jesuits in 1978 and was ordained in 1988. 

Fr. Graham was Xavier University's President from January 1, 2001 to June 30, 2021. Fr. Graham’s passion for the specifically Jesuit mission of Xavier animated his presidency in multiple ways.  He collaborated with a variety of professionals in the area of Jesuit Mission and Identity to shape and support work to share Xavier’s Jesuit ethos and heart with faculty, staff and students in such a way that its approach to that work is generally regarded as best-in-class.  He helped found a campus center for dialogue that became a crucial hub for inter-religious conversation in the Cincinnati region, and whose work engaged a wide variety of constituencies and topics in areas of justice, sustainability, immigration and more. He likewise championed diversity, inclusion and equity efforts on and off the campus and helped recruit transformative leadership to embed that work firmly within the fabric of the University.  

In his retirement, Fr. Graham looks forward to expanded opportunities for pastoral ministry, especially through various retreats at the Midwest Jesuit Province network of retreat houses, and to assisting Jesuit university trustees and senior executives understand better the Jesuit mission and identity of their schools so as to lead them more effectively and in fidelity to their origins. And, of course, he’ll keep his eyes and ears open for whatever ideas for his future his Provincial Superior may suggest.