Q&A with Deacon Jim Fish

Deacon Jim Fish and Fr. John Fuchs, SJ, will be leading an Advent retreat the weekend of December 1-3, 2017. We hope you enjoy getting to know Deacon Jim a little better before your retreat weekend!

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself! Where you work, your position and responsibilities. If you’d like to share, tell us about your family life and/or hobbies outside of work.                   

Deacon Jim: I have two work positions: Pastoral Coordinator at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Tacoma where I am the Pastoral leader of the parish, the de-facto pastor and am the deacon assigned to serve. I’m also a part-time teacher (senior elective on Prayer) and Director of Adult Formation at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. I also direct senior silent Ignatian retreats and faculty/staff admin retreats. For hobbies, I garden, bicycle, walk, and spend as much time as I am able with my wife, Cindy.

Q: Your retreat is on the first weekend of Advent. Why is this liturgical season so important? What would you suggest to do in preparation for Christmas?         

Advent is a beautiful time the Church provides for us in order to be more focused and present to God’s ever-presence. I absolutely love it. As far as a suggestion, I would suggest making a commitment to at least 15-20 minutes a day for prayer focused on the readings of the day so that one can be in union with the Universal Church. Two personal favorites I would suggest using during Advent is: Give Us This Day and The Word Among Us. They both really help me get closer to Jesus!

Q: Your Advent retreat is entitled “Ignatian Prayer: Friendship with Jesus.” What makes Ignatian spirituality different or special from other spiritualties? Why does it resonate with you?

I find Ignatian spirituality incredibly Christocentric, practical and uncomplicated. I find that St. Ignatius continually challenges me to go back to Jesus- am I spending time with Jesus, listening to Jesus, and responding to Jesus. It’s not the only Catholic spirituality – however it works for many. For me, Ignatian spirituality is mission- and kingdom-driven, and engages the way I pray with the Scriptures. Ignatius affirmed the use of the imagination in prayer – that has always resonated with me.

Q: For those who struggle with regular prayer, what advice would you give? What are some simple practices to incorporate prayer daily or weekly? 

We commit to many things these days. But if I want to grow with my relationship with God, I must be committed to daily prayer. I check on the Mariners daily during their season. As a wannabe disciple, I want to do whatever I can to be closer to Jesus. He’s way more important than the Mariners! I made a commitment many years ago to daily prayer, so I get up very early and pray for about 90 minutes. But it’s taken years to develop that, and I’m still learning. So what’s most important is that daily contact with Jesus in personal prayer and listening to Him through the Scriptures. God is ever-present with us. I’m not always so present to Him, so I must daily make the effort to be in God’s most loving presence every day.

Q: For those who are hesitant to try a silent retreat, what would you say to encourage them?

Our world is so noisy, and there are so many competing voices. I get that it’s hard to slow down and be with Jesus. Just know that Jesus desperately wants to be with us. He wants to fill us with his love. Thus, a silent retreat gives us that opportunity.

Q: Do you have any favorite prayers or saints? What inspires you?

I have a particular devotion to 3 saints and 1 blessed. They are St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila and Blessed Charles de Foucauld. I imagine that you’ve all heard of the first three, but may not know anything of Bl. Charles. All four inspire me and help me in my desire to be close to Jesus and improve on my wannabe discipleship. Two French, one Basque, and a Spaniard! I can never learn enough about them since they help me and pray for my wife and I.

My wife who is battling cancer also inspires me. Her courage, devotion to prayer, and her loving-kindness never ceases to amaze me.

One of my favorite prayers of all time is the “Prayer for Generosity,” attributed to St. Ignatius. It always challenges me to deepen my commitment to service for Christ Jesus. I learned it in Australia when I taught at St. Ignatius College in the suburbs of Sydney, NSW in Lane Cove.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share about the retreat? Ignatian spirituality? Yourself?

I still have a long ways to go, but what I hope to do is be an assist with Fr. John Fuchs for all who sign up for this to draw closer to Jesus through the gift that is St. Ignatius and the spirituality inspired by the Society of Jesus. The Palisades is a wonderful setting and has great food and a great staff!


If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to register for this wonderful retreat! Register here.