Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I enjoy watching the trees turn into multi-colored works of art. Each day brings a new palette of colors to my garden. Autumn also represents a cycle of change and loss to me. My mother and my husband Mike passed away in this season, several years apart, and every fall I face the grief of no longer having them with me. But this time, I decided to approach the season with hope and renewal. I sold the home I had lived in for 32 years, retired from my long-time job at Catholic Charities and moved from Saint Cloud to the Twin Cities.
For the last couple of years, I have been longing to find my center of gravity again. Without daily commitments to my job and my family, I felt like something was missing in my life. I missed the kind of work I was part of with Catholic Charities and other nonprofit organizations I had worked at. I realized that service to others is my passion. As I grow older and in wisdom of the years, this passion is more important to me than ever.
Spirituality also matters to me. Jesuit values were part of my education from first grade through college. As early as elementary school, I learned to ‘look to find God in all things’ and that there was good in all of humanity. I graduated from Creighton University, a school with a strong Jesuit tradition in Omaha, Nebraska. I left Creighton with a strong sense of compassion for the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized. Only a few months ago, I received a letter from my alma mater about an active Jesuit/Lay person collaborative in the Twin Cities, founded years ago by two Jesuit priests. I thought that this letter might just be what I was looking for. It motivated me to contact the Ignatian Volunteer Corps.
I reached out to Kathleen Groh, Regional Director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC), an organization for retired persons over the age of 50 who are interested in sharing their life skills, wisdom and compassion with organizations focused on social justice. I learned that spirituality and an ongoing reflection process with a spiritual advisor are at the heart of the IVC experience. The advisor is trained in Ignatian Spirituality and has the experience to guide new volunteers like myself both spiritually and analytically as we engage in meaningful work. Ignatian volunteers are committed to working two days a week throughout ten months at a service site in the Metro Area.
I recognized early in my application to the IVC that Mary’s Pence would be a good match for me. I interviewed with Katherine and the staff, and we all agreed that Mary’s Pence fits my needs, and that my skills will be useful here. My goal is to help the organization increase donor outreach in Minnesota and other Midwestern states with my background in fund development, volunteer management and public relations.
It has only been a couple of weeks since I started my work with the smart, dedicated and fun coworkers at Mary’s Pence, yet I feel welcome and needed here. I have found a way to live out my passion. The autumn season is bringing me new and exciting beauty.