Needs exceed resources. That’s a fact of life. On a personal level, there’s never time enough to pursue every worthy activity, nor money enough to support every deserving charity. So, how do we decide? Ideally, we prioritize. We discern what’s most important to us and align our actions accordingly.
“Triaging the to-do list” is not just for individuals, however. In 2017, the Jesuits’ Father General, Arturo Sosa SJ, wrote, “We are all too well aware of thedisproportion between the needs of humanity which the Church seeks to meet and the resources we have at hand.” As a response to this insight, after two years of fruitful consultation and discernment, the Society of Jesus announced their Universal Apostolic Preferences for the decade ahead.
During IVC Philadelphia/South Jersey’s June retreat, skilled facilitator and spiritual director Nicholas Collura led us in a consideration of the four “UAPs.”
Showing the Way to God through the Spiritual Exercises and discernment.
Walking with the Excluded—the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated—in a mission of reconciliation and justice.
Journeying with Youth in the creation of a hope-filled future.
Caring for Our Common Home—collaborating, with Gospel depth, for the protection and renewal of God’s creation.
As a ministry founded and inspired by Jesuits, we decided to look at how our service placements are living out those UAPs. Here are three key insights:
Walking with the Excluded is our core Apostolic Preference. This UAP describes every one of our placements: serving children and families, disabled or older adults, migrants / refugees, and those who lack access to nutritious food or safe housing. From direct service to behind-the-scenes work to advocacy, Ignatian Volunteers work with and for those whose needs are dire yet often invisible to society at large.
Placements address multiple UAP’s. Many of our placements serve children—whether in education or through family services—thereby Journeying with Youth as well as Walking with the Excluded. And those that Care for Our Common Home are veritable trifectas of UAPs, as they engage marginalized children in the creation of a healthy present and sustainable future.
We Show the Way to God through our witness. While none of the IVC Philly/South Jersey placements involve the Spiritual Exercises or explicitly catechetical ministry, each person’s decision to join the Service Corps in his or her “third act” is the fruit of careful discernment. Through this countercultural choice, supported by our monthly spiritual-formation gatherings, volunteers witness to God’s call and the generous response that is possible.
Fr. Sosa describes the Jesuits’ UAPs as “the best ways for the Society to make use of the resources it has available for the service of Christ’s reconciling mission in the world.” IVC members are honored to part of that reconciling mission.
Curious about the specifics? Following is a list of placements organized (loosely) by Universal Apostolic Preference, with a brief mission statement and web link for your further exploration.
– Christine Eberle