May 1, 2016 – my last First Communion celebration, and my last day as the Director of Faith Formation and Liturgy at a Catholic parish. It was a job that I have always wanted to do, and loved to do and had chosen an area of study that would hopefully give me the knowledge and skills I needed to do my job well.
However, that study had given me so much more. I became open to the infinite possibilities of the ways to understand and enter a relationship with God. I began to feel constrained in a community where while the people were very charitable, there did not seem to be an overwhelming interest in social justice. I knew that after retirement, I would need to spend time doing something meaningful that would “feed” me.
My theological studies at the University of St. Catherine put an emphasis on adhering to an ethic of love rather and an ethic of obligation. An ethic of obligation asks the question “what do we owe the poor and marginalized?” while an ethic of love asks “what do we want for the poor because they are beloved children of God and my sisters and brothers?” An ethic of obligation has limits, an ethic of love knows no boundaries.
Also, while studying at St. Kate’s, I was introduced to the spiritual masters. I was moved by the spiritual growth of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He began life as a nobleman and warrior in the age of chivalry and, while recuperating from wounds, experienced conversion and became one who devoted his life to study, prayer, and ministry in the world. Ignatius and his followers believed God could be found everywhere and in all things. Jesuits minister in the world, recognizing God in those they encounter.
Given my interests in the poor and marginalized and in Ignatian Spirituality, I was enthusiastic when I received a call from Kathleen Groh the Director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corp, in which she asked me if I would be interested in a volunteer position with Mary’s Pence. I was told that Mary’s Pence is animated by the knowledge that women contribute in myriad ways to societal good and their inclusion and equality are essential for a just society. To assist women in achieving their full potential, in often less than ideal circumstances, Mary’s Pence looks to the values of Catholic Social Teaching as a guide for working to assure social, economic and environmental justice for women.
While I have been at Mary’s Pence for short time, I am impressed by the obvious passion and commitment of the staff to the work of serving women who need assistance to grow and flourish. At Mary’s Pence, I can lend my assistance in any way that is needed to further their cause. As a part of the Ignatian Volunteer Corp, I can do so with the support of a community dedicated to Ignatian values.