|May 19, 2014 • VOL. 52, NO. 10 • Oakland, CA|
Senior Living & Resources
Ignatian Companions commit to working with the poor
While it may not be unusual for a new graduate to spend a year after college serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, those leaning toward the retirement years are invited to consider participating in a program to directly serve the poor and marginalized.
Mitchell, who is not retired, is just kidding about the "old" part, of course. But if you're under the age of 50, this is not your program.
The Companions program has grown from six members in Santa Clara County in 2008, to a program in the East Bay in 2010, to expansion to San Francisco last year. More than 100 Companions have been trained.
According to its mission, Ignatian Companions engages women and men, retired and semi-retired, who have a desire to serve those most marginalized in our communities while deepening their spiritual foundations.
The companions combine their personal journey of faith with their own conviction to act for justice within local nonprofits. During the 10-month Companions course, a group of 10 to 15 people meet one Saturday each month. In addition to the spiritual growth — the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, for example, are adapted to be experienced over the term — participants work directly with the poor and marginalized for a minimum of six hours a week.
Companions has developed a local list of charities and service organizations for this service. Participants have served in prison ministry, fed shut-ins and homeless, worked in counseling centers, tutored underprivileged children and provided hospice care.
"I feel, and I think we all feel, that it has been a privilege to be a companion," Mitchell wrote in a recent fundraising letter to her fellow Companions. "It has deepened my faith life and added a whole new dimension to my service to the people that Jesus calls us to serve. Now, when I share a meal with homeless people or listen to the stories of the young victim of human sex trafficking or greet people at a facility that provides housing services for the elderly, I see the face of Jesus."
Mitchell recalled in the letter the camaraderie of the Companions. "My life has been enriched so much since I started this journey," she wrote. "And, of course, I have formed lasting friendships with my fellow companions as we support and love each other along the way."
Mitchell also serves on the board of directors of Catholic Charities of the East Bay.
Applications for the 2014-15 Ignatian Companions program are available. Information sessions are scheduled May 28 and July 9, at 7 p.m., at the Berkeley Campus of the Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 LeRoy Ave., Berkeley. Additional information is on the website www.ignatiancompanions.org. Contact Executive Director Jenny Girard Malley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-375-0622.
(Catholic San Francisco contributed to this report.)
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