Volunteers at Manresa
Ignatian Volunteers at Manresa
"I had the experience but missed the meaning."
WHO WE ARE
Ignatian Volunteers at Manresa are men and women, age 50 and over,
who share their skills, talents and life experiences with organizations
that directly serve the poor or marginalized. Ignatian volunteers
serve people in need, work for a more just society and grow deeper
in Christian faith by reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition.
Volunteers are guided through a reflection process based on the
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. This process helps
volunteers discover the deeper meaning of the work they do and
see Christ more clearly as they labor among their brothers and
sisters who are poor. Reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition
individually and communally deepens the experience
WHAT WE DO
Ignatian Volunteers: 1) work at a Detroit-area service agency
that serves the poor and marginalized, and 2) grow deeper in their
Christian faith by reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition.
- Volunteers work about twice a week at a service agency. Local
service agencies where volunteers have worked include: Lighthouse,
the Oakland County Sheriff Department (chaplain), University
of Detroit Mercy Institute for Leadership and Service, Saints
Peter and Paul Warming Center, Caritas Welcome Center, Loyola
High School, Reggie McKenzie Foundation, Crossroads, Capuchin
Youth Program, Children's Hospital, All Saints Neighborhood
Center and Freedom House.
- During monthly meetings (September-June) at Manresa volunteers
pray and reflect on their service experiences. In addition,
volunteers meet every month with a spiritual reflector and attend
an overnight retreat.
YOUR MOST IMPORTANT WORK MAY
BEGIN AFTER YOU RETIRE
If interested, contact Nick
by Nick Sharkey, Ignatian Volunteer
When I joined IVC I wanted to do something different with my
life. I wanted to work directly with poor people. After many years
of pursuing a demanding career and raising three children together
with my wife, Janice, I was ready for a change.
I was influenced by several factors. When I was growing up my
parents helped those who were less fortunate than our family in
many different ways. My present suburban parish strongly encourages
acts of social justice. For example, our churchs stained
glass windows once belonged in an inner city church that had been
closed; they are a constant reminder of those struggling with
their lives in Detroit. While I was considering an early retirement
offer from a large corporation, I attended Mass one Sunday morning.
One of the hymns selected repeated the refrain, Whatsoever
you do for the least of my brethren, you do unto me. The
combination of the pending retirement offer and the words from
Matthews gospel inspired me. I was sure that I was being
told that it was time for me to spend time with the poor.
This led me to IVC Detroit. In my first two placements I worked
in administrative assignments for organizations that worked with
the poor. They did important, meaningful work but it didnt
feel right for me. I told the Regional Director that I wanted
to work directly with the poor. Finally, in the spring of my second
year she called and said, You said you want to work with
the poor. I made an appointment for you to speak with the director
of the Saints Peter and Paul Warming Center for poor people in
After my first visit to Saints Peter and Paul I was reminded
of the old saying, Be careful what you wish for. The
smells had overwhelmed me body odor, alcohol on the breath
and toilet odors. Maybe I wasnt cut out for this work after
all. I was learning the first lesson in working with the poor
sometimes it is messy and awkward. You must step out of
your personal comfort zone. Soon I ignored the odors and focused
on the smiling faces of those who walked through the door when
we opened in the morning. Im now in my fifth year at Saints
Peter and Paul. I am having experiences every day that I will
cherish forever. The most fulfilling part of my week is when I
lead a Mens Group for one hour every Monday. In a communal
setting we pray the Ignatian Daily Examen together and the guests
describe their deepest hopes and greatest fears. Im experiencing
a part of life that I never knew existed. This is what I wanted
when I began IVC, but even more important Im convinced
Im doing what God wants me to do at this time in my life.
Last year when IVC members were reading Shane Claibornes
Irresistible Revolution at one of our monthly city meetings
we watched a videotape of Shane speaking to a group. He talked
about a survey that had been taken of Christians and their attitudes
about the poor. As I recall, he said those surveyed estimated
that they thought Christ spent about 80 percent of his time on
earth with the poor and the marginalized. When asked how much
time they spent with the poor, it was 5 percent. The survey Shane
described made me think about my recent IVC experiences. Im
far from spending 80 percent of my time with the poor, but through
IVC Im getting closer to following the example of Christ.
by Nick Sharkey, Ignatian Volunteer
from the Caritas Welcome Center Newsletter
According to the American Dream, you will lead a good life if
you go to school, work hard at your job and respect authority.
It is based on deferred gratification that is, if you sacrifice
today it will pay off in the long run.
For many people living at the same time and in the same nation
as us, the American Dream is a myth. This is their world:
A few weeks ago a guest came into the Caritas Welcome Center
and described how he had recently seen a homeless man tied to
the bumper of a car and dragged through the streets. The message
was: homeless people aren't wanted in our neighborhood. One guest
said he was 38 years old and not one person he grew up with is
still alive. Another guest said that when he was growing up if
someone was killed by a shotgun blast it was considered death
by a "natural cause." Other guests have said from their
personal experiences they believe all elected officials, police
officers and courts are corrupt.
Few of us are aware that we live in a world of parallel universes.
In our universe we try to eat right, get exercise and regularly
see doctors and dentists. In the other universe it doesn't matter
if you stay healthy because you'll have a short life. In our universe,
we teach our children that if they are in danger, they should
find a police officer. In the other universe, children are taught
to run away from police officers because they can't be trusted.
Why does it matter if we know that in the early 21st century
we live in a nation with parallel universes?
1. Understanding it's important that we know that "our
life" is not the "only life." Many people who live
at the same time as we do have very different lives and views
2. Tolerance when we see people on a street corner smoking
and drinking it is tempting to think, "don't they know that
they will die young?" Many people are convinced they will
have a short life so it doesn't matter if they stay healthy.
3. Compassion this naturally follows from Understanding
and Tolerance. With Compassion we can reflect on people who live
a far different life than what we experience. It's up to us how
we put our Compassion into action.
Only after we go through these steps can we begin to relate
to people who have no hope in the American Dream.