Date of Submission



This research into the interaction of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and Ignatian spirituality within the praxis of the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific Social Apostolate Network (the Network) in relation to vulnerable migrants in or from Asia in the period 2008–2012 adopts a community engagement approach, partnering with the Network to generate emergent knowledge and transformative action. The research design consciously engages synergies between CST, Ignatian spirituality and a praxis approach to theology. The tools of grounded theory are used to analyse data gathered via semi-structured in-depth interviews with members of the Network. The data are then placed in dialogue with CST, Ignatian spirituality and contemporary theologies of migration. The subsequent theological reflection offered is informed by the theological framework of the pastoral spiral. CST and Ignatian spirituality are found to interact within the Network’s approach to action; however, research participants understand Ignatian spirituality to be their “way of proceeding” and CST is often mediated by it. Sophisticated, holistic reflexivity and knowledge of CST appear to be required for Ignatian spirituality to inform the development of CST as a source of the Network’s praxis. CST, however, may inform the development of members of the Network’s Ignatian spirituality regardless of their focus of reflexivity or awareness of CST. The two sources interact in a mutual and generative way for most of those who display a holistic focus of reflexivity, whereas for those whose reflexivity is one- or two-dimensional, they are merely consistent or complementary. The theologising of the Network and its members is performative and not always explicitly articulated; however, their core practices embody and reveal theological insight. Reflecting on these core practices in dialogue with CST, Ignatian spirituality and recent theologies of migration, the research proposes a number of elements of a practical theology of reflexive praxis in relation to vulnerable migrants in and from Asia. More specifically, the research enters into dialogue with the theological works of Susanna Snyder, Joshua Ralston, and Erin Wilson on the engagement of faith-based organisations with refugees and migrants, with John Swinton on practical theodicity, with Agnes Brazal concerning the concept of the habitus, with Luke Bretherton regarding hospitality as holiness, with Gemma Cruz’s theological exploration of the gendered experience of Asian women migrants, and with Michael Amaladoss concerning an option for the poor in Asia.1 It proposes that such a practical theology of reflexive praxis would be incarnational, starting from complex, plural and multidimensional experience. It would be holistic, considering motivations, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values and practices, and would embrace the spiritual dimension of experience. It would also be dialogical, placing faith sources in conversation with experience and with one another, placing the experiences of different groups in conversation with one another, and exploring the interaction of different dimensions of experience. Finally, it would be transformative, seeking more faithful practice that transforms both realities and faith traditions. The research identifies ways in which the experience of the Network may contribute to the development of CST and Ignatian spirituality as sources of praxis, and some ways in which the praxis of the Network may be further developed. It sheds light on and raises questions for the social apostolate action of other faith-based organisations.


School of Theology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


325 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Theology and Philosophy

Included in

Religion Commons