Discerning a Year of Service in IVC

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Dave Hinchen leads the New England office of IVC. In the 2017-18 service year, more than 40 men and women served in communities in and around Boston, Worcester and Providence, RI.

As the IVC community begins a new year of service, we turned to IVC New England Regional Director Dave Hinchen to get a few thoughts on discerning the call to serve at IVC. 

Hinchen, a former Jesuit priest, has spent his life in service, beginning with the Peace Corps and then as a Jesuit. He founded and directed the Jesuit Volunteer Corps East in 1974 and was one of the founders of IVC New England, which launched its first volunteers in 2009. Hinchen has been the regional director since 2010.

How do you encourage your volunteers to take time to discern where they should serve?

Basically I ask them to interview wherever they are moved to be working, places that feel right to them. I tell them to interview at as many places they need to until something feels good. I try not to fill places because they need a warm body there; it needs to fit for them.

What I want to do is find where their gifts and talent coincide with needs of an agency and what it’s trying to do. 

What does discernment mean?

That is a good question. To me it means asking, what are the movements of the spirit in you? Where are the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Where do you feel them? Where do those movements within you lead you?

There are different movements. …  There are movements in you for good or for evil, and we all need to kind of sift through those and make choices given those movements.

I don’t believe God has this one thing that He wants me to do. He works with us and opens us to many possibilities, and we need to choose.

God works with love and peace. Sometimes choices are both good choices. So we pray that God helps us to make choices.

How do you encourage volunteers to discern their service year?

I would just say that they should take advantage of the reflection opportunities they have, the retreats, the reflectors, the personal prayer and journaling to be aware of how they can best help others and how they can best grow themselves — to be open to surprises and keep expectations fluid.  That would be the hope. 

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