Why do we serve?

When IVC volunteers serving in the greater Los Angeles area were asked why they joined IVC their answers were enlightening as well as inspiring. Here are some of their responses:

“I have been blessed with a beautiful family, a full life with good health. It is my time to give back a little of all that God has given me. I hope this begins to show how grateful I am for all my blessings from the Lord.”

“After going through Just Faith programs on social justice I became aware of all the injustices that keep the poor being poor. I wanted to do something to help. I go to the Catholic Worker twice a month to help feed the homeless but I wanted to do more. My wife and I discovered the Ignatian Volunteer Corps and now two days a week I am a school counselor and my wife is the school nurse at a Catholic school in L.A.”

“I was seeking ways to have a prayerful life after retirement.  I always had compassion for the less fortunate. I needed to get involved yet “with purpose”…I am trying to follow in the steps of Jesus. We are our brother’s keepers.”

“Why do I work for the poor?  It’s all I’ve ever done as an adult.  It’s who I am; it’s part of my Christian faith. It keeps me rooted; it reminds me of how Christ chose to be with the poor. Solidarity with the poor is the starting point of how I live my life. (These are all values that I don’t always live everyday but I aspire to).”

“IVC is an opportunity to give back for all the blessings given me and to give back where most needed – to the poor.  An opportunity for my life to have real meaning.  Belonging to IVC gives me great joy and the strength of a community of like souls as I strive to have a deeper relationship with God.”

Reading through all of the responses searching for a representative sample, my curiosity reached beyond the volunteers to the Regional Directors. Why do they serve the Ignatian Volunteer Corps?  This led to some soul searching and it was not until participating at an early morning liturgy on Pentecost Sunday that the light went on in my head. I realized that being a Regional Director of IVC meant being part of building up the Kingdom of God. While this may sound simple and obvious it has taken me nearly five years to come full circle back to this point.

IVC started out as a mission and grew into a job. The ministry I signed on for evolved into fundraising, clerical work and event planning. It kept me busy and focused but it did not feed my soul until I realized that all of the work whether it is phone calls, retreats, creating excel sheets (the bane of my existence!) or enjoying listening to and interacting with the volunteers or agency directors and clients, was part of leading others to God.  It was a moment inspired by the Spirit that I will use as a touchstone for the future.

Anne Hansen is Regional Director for IVC Los Angeles and has written a column for the Tidings newspaper for many years (nearly 20) – Family Time.  She co-authored Culture-Sensitive Ministry (Paulist Press, 2010) and offers workshops and retreats throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

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