The Next Chapter

Back in the day, retirement planning seemed largely non-existent or rudimentary at best.

Most folks went to work Friday for a cake send-off, then clocked out forever. End of story — except many people woke up in a panic the following Monday, wondering, "What am I going to do now!?"

The St. Louis University Office of Mission and Identity will help answer that question, with a new program designed specifically for soon-to-be retirees or recent retirees.

Starting in September, The Next Chapter program will assist individuals in discerning God's call for the next chapter in their lives after their working careers. Ignatian Spirituality is at the center of this guided journey, with readings, videos and presentations from Jesuit Father Chris Collins, Jesuit cohorts, SLU faculty and staff and other experts.

In monthly sessions over a six-month span, a group of about 15 will explore post-retirement volunteer service, encore careers and more.

"How do they want that next phase of their lives to go — meaningful work to be involved in, enjoyment of family, savoring life," said Father Collins, who heads the SLU Mission and Identity office. "And how does their faith get formed? Just discerning how God is leading them in the next phase of life."

Father Collins led a pair of 24-hour retreats — one in fall and the other in spring — as a mini-version of The Next Chapter, consisting of giving participants "basic tools of Ignatian Discernment" for their next steps.

The group included individuals and couples, who shared prayer and Mass, but more importantly, conversation with peers facing a similar reality of upcoming retirement or retired life.

Father Collins called those discussions "powerful."

"The retreat allowed them to talk to each other at that level, expressing their desires — that in itself was encouraging," he said. "Many were in the same walks of life but didn't know each other. I was amazed at the depth of sharing. It was pretty cool."

The program will be facilitated by SLU law school alumnus Tom Auffenberg and Don Eggleston. Both retired in the past year: Auffenberg after careers in teaching, law and financial planning, and as a business owner for 25 years; Eggleston after 30 years in health care, including the previous 10 as vice-president for mission integration at SSM Health.

Each have master's degrees in theology, as well as extensive experience in spiritual direction, teaching and coaching. Auffenberg participated in a similar year-long secular program for impending retirees, but decided to put a Catholic spin on the subject as a SLU alum who has remained in close contact with the school and worked with Father Collins in the past.

"My participation in that program got me to thinking how I could be involved in a similar program here," said Auffenberg, noting that the other program was based in Dallas and draws nationwide while this program will be unique for the immediate St. Louis area. "All of the meetings will be face-to-face. This is grounded in Ignatian Spirituality, tailored more to the Catholic audience than maybe some programs that are a little more generic." 

>> The Next Chapter | Information nights

When • 7. p.m. Tuesday, May 23, and Wednesday, June 28

Where • Loyola Room, Jesuit Hall (3601 Lindell Blvd.), St. Louis University

Who • Soon-to-be retirees or recent retirees

What • The Next Chapter is a six-month program sponsored by SLU's Office of Mission and Identity to guide and assist people discerning God's call for the next chapters of their lives.

Cost • The info nights are free; the program fee of $500 covers class materials, presenter fees and more.

Application deadline • Friday, July 15

More • To register for an information night or for more information, email Tom Auffenberg at tauffenb@slu.edu 

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