By Tom Maguire | Associate editor
Ignatian Volunteers are popular everywhere.
The Syracuse region of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC Syracuse), which serves people who are poor and marginalized, reports that “hundreds of community organizations are on waiting lists to get an Ignatian Volunteer.”
As it promotes its March 13 leadership webinar, IVC Syracuse quotes a comment by Pope Francis in 2015: “Be leaders wherever it behooves you to be. Leaders of thought, leaders of action, leaders of joy, leaders of hope, leaders of the construction of a better world.”
Sponsored by Le Moyne College and the Discerning Leadership Program (see sidebar below), the 90-minute interactive webinar is titled “The Heart of Leadership: Love, Courage, and Vulnerability.” Speaking live from Rome, Italy, will be Father David McCallum, S.J.
The workshop begins at 10 a.m. and includes contemplative prayer, a leadership presentation, individual reflection, and a concluding question-and-answer period. The IVC sees it as an opportunity to 1) reflect on your leadership and service spirit, 2) call forth the benefits of leading with an open heart, and 3) discern how to lead the way in the spirit of “servant leadership.”
The registration (ivcusa.org) donation is $25 per person. All registered participants will receive an edited video of the workshop as well as selected materials. All proceeds will support the Albany and Syracuse regions of the IVC.
Opportunities to serve
IVC is a national nonprofit service organization that provides men and women, most age 50 or older, with opportunities to serve others, to address social injustice, and to transform lives. More than 600 volunteers serve in 22 regions across the United States.
Linda Zimmerman, Director of IVC Syracuse, is based at Le Moyne College. She said about 20 volunteers age 55 and above work in Onondaga County. The volunteers, she said, are also provided with the spiritual opportunity of praying together, “and some people meet weekly as well, but it’s really so we can see Jesus in our work.”
IVC Syracuse has volunteers from many parishes, including Immaculate Conception, Fayetteville; St. Ann’s, Manlius; and All Saints and St. Lucy’s, Syracuse.
The volunteers assist agencies that serve those experiencing poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and disability as well as language and cultural barriers; included are infants, families and seniors, refugees and immigrants, migrant workers, and those living with no reserves. Each IVC member works with a specific partner agency for about 10 months of the year, from four to 16 hours per week. Many members return year after year to the same assignment, according to IVC Syracuse.
Currently, Zimmerman’s volunteers are helping agencies including Catholic Charities Emergency Services; Jesuit Worldwide Learning; On Point for College; the All Saints refugee outreach program; and the Syracuse City School District (mentoring and tutoring).
‘God calls us in different ways’
The IVC Syracuse website includes comments from Barbara Lee, a retired lawyer and judge from New York City, who sees volunteer opportunities available for retired people and empty nesters:
“We help the poor and the underserved in many different ways. We also nourish our own spiritual life as we discover how God is calling us here and now.
“Many of us use the skills and knowledge that we acquired in business or as nurses, teachers, social workers, grant writers, grandparents; others of us want to do something new. …
“When I joined IVC, I said that I was open to anything other than legal work. After all, I was retired. So I spent the next 16 years teaching English at an immigrant-services center. … It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
“There are many other stories like mine, and you can read some of them on the IVC website. But for me, just as important as the service experience was sharing the spiritual journey with other people in the same age group.
“God calls us in different ways at different times in our lives. Older adults may discover that God is calling them to pray and to serve in ways that they never imagined.
“To see some of the possibilities, go to the IVC home page and click on the city nearest to you.
“Are you ready for God to surprise you?”