IVC Virtual Region Director
Welcome to IVC Minneapolis/St. Paul
The Jesuit-affiliated Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) Minneapolis/St. Paul offers an opportunity for men and women to work for a more just society while growing in their faith through praying in the Ignatian tradition.
“I strive to see and hear Jesus in each person, reminding myself that I am serving Him, which is truly a privilege.” – Joe Hammell
Pictured: Joe Hammell
Get to know our newest IVC member, Joe Hammell.
Q. Tell us about your family?
A. I grew up in a family of six kids, one brother and four sisters. We have always been, and continue to be, very close. We were blessed with two wonderful, loving parents. I had a Jesuit priest for a teacher in high school who said that a person’s image of God is often heavily influenced by his or her parents. I had two saintly parents who did an excellent job mirroring God.
My wife, Joan, and I have been married for over 37 years. We were friends before we started dating, which gave us a good foundation. She went to an all-girl Catholic high school with my sisters, and I went to an all-boy Catholic high school with all her brothers. Everybody knew each other at our wedding! I love her more and more every day. She is my best friend, best partner, and soulmate. I tell her every day: Thank you for marrying me!
We have three children, two by birth, Chip (age 33) and Kylie (age 30), and another daughter, Lily, by marriage to our son. My children have beautifully enhanced my life in many ways, and have helped me to better understand God and God’s love for us, His children. They also help me understand many other very practical things, like how to get all the benefits of my smart phone (which apparently is smarter than me).
Q. Tell us about what you did prior to becoming an IVC service corps member?
A. Before retiring and joining IVC, I was an attorney in private practice. I had both a litigation and advice practice. I enjoyed counseling clients, as well as the intellectual stimulation, strategy, and thrill of advocating in court and in all the activity that led up to the actual courtroom experience. Over the course of my career, I had the privilege of practicing in two excellent law firms, where I worked with many brilliant people, lawyers and non-lawyers alike. I made a number of excellent friends among my colleagues, clients, and even opposing counsel.
Q. What prompted you to become an IVC member?
A. I first learned about IVC while on an Ignatian retreat at the Demontreville Jesuit Retreat Center. I was drawn to the dual components of service and spirituality. I planned on joining IVC for some time, and I am thrilled now to be doing it.
Q. What have you enjoyed most about the spiritual development component/benefits you receive as an IVC member?
A. Good works are certainly important, but the motivation and thought behind the works are at least as important, if not more so. The works, just like life itself, lack meaning if not grounded in a close, loving, personal relationship with God. The spiritual component of IVC helps in building, nurturing, and strengthening that relationship. As St. Francis Xavier said: “It is not the actual physical exertion that counts towards one’s progress, nor the nature of the task, but by the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.”
Q. What have you enjoyed most about your work at Casa Guadalupana?
A. What has been most enjoyable for me is connecting with the individuals living at Casa Guadalupana, learning about them, their lives, and experiences, while also sharing with them about my own life and experiences. We have been getting to know each other better, and such relationship-building is very rewarding.
Q. What is your philosophy on service?
A. I strive to see and hear Jesus in each person, reminding myself that I am serving Him, which is truly a privilege.
Q. Do you have a favorite prayer? If so, what is it?
A. I have many favorite prayers. One I like very much and repeat multiple times during the day is a very simple prayer that nonetheless is very rich in meaning. It is: “Nothing is me; everything is you, God. Thanks be to God!” With these few words, I remind myself that everything I have, everything I am able to accomplish, all the good in my life, my very existence is a gift from God. Likewise, I am reminded that I cannot claim credit for anything, because it is all due to God, and I should be humble in this knowledge. Finally, and most importantly, I praise and give thanks to God for his generous and bountiful goodness, love, attention, and care for me.
Q. When you reflect on your faith journey, is there a significant moment that stands out which you would share?
A. My brother, John, died in 1995 from HIV. He knew for several years before his death that he would die from this disease. He had a much more immediate, concrete awareness of his own mortality than most of us have as we go about our lives. And I was deeply impressed by the way he lived the balance of his life. In particular, he became even more strongly grounded in his faith, among other things regularly attending Mass. He did this even though some (but thankfully not all) in the Church rejected him for who he was. His example reinvigorated my own faith and helped propel me further along in my own faith journey.
Q. If someone was contemplating becoming an IVC member – what would you tell them?
A. Do it! You will be happy you did! Also, if you want to talk about the experience, call me any time.