Ignatian Volunteers, age 50 and older, commit to work two days a week in service to people who are materially poor, September through June, for a year.
IVC is all about community. Volunteers are working throughout the Los Angeles area at medical clinics, schools, educational training centers and shelters. They also do fund-raising, counseling and all kinds of administrative jobs to help IVC complete its threefold mission of serving the needs of people who are poor, working for a more just society and helping volunteers grow deeper in their Christian faith. The region has established partnerships with Catholic Charities, Loyola Marymount University, Blessed Sacrament Social Services, A Place Called Home, Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission, Dolores Mission, QueensCare, and the Valley Interfaith Council.
IVC volunteers have an enormous impact on the lives of the people they serve and often their greatest contribution is their steady presence. One of our Los Angeles volunteers recently shared his insights on how he is learning to connect with the youth at his service site. When he first started working at Proyecto Pastoral at Dolores Mission, he found that the older students wouldn’t give him the time of day. Then he attended the Sunday mass with their program director and took the time to socialize at a community breakfast. Shortly after, one of the older kids struck up a conversation with him. He realized that his presence at that mass meant to the kids that he wasn’t some outsider but was instead a part of their community.
The spiritual formation component of the program is also very attractive to volunteers. Reflecting on serving the poor is the hallmark of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. Volunteers keep a personal journal, meet monthly with a spiritual “reflector” as well as with other local volunteers, have days of prayer and go on an overnight retreat. The purpose of all this introspection, which is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, is to deepen the volunteer’s experience of service—in short, to find God in all things.