Jesuit Volunteers draw inspiration and direction from the spirituality traditions of the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits. St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, sought to integrate a life of prayer with active work for the greater glory of God, ad majorem Dei gloriam.
Ignatian spirituality is practical. It affirms human potential but also is aware of the day-in and day-out struggle between good and evil. Jesuits live as a "contemplative in action," balancing between prayer and work. A Jesuit's life clearly involves an active apostolate. In order to reflect upon and enrich their work, Jesuits incorporate prayer, retreats, and community gatherings to facilitate spiritual renewal into their lives.
Jesuit Volunteers share the same elements that make up the spirituality of the Jesuits. Thus, retreats, community gatherings, spiritual direction, and sharing of vision are all incorporated into the JV experience.
JVs also seek to understand the Ignatian idea of finding God in all things, through their work and community life. They strive to discern how their gifts can meet the greatest needs of others. In doing so, they participate in co-creating a holy and living space for developing faith in action.
Work as a JV may connect directly with the Jesuits, as several placements, both domestically and internationally, are with Jesuit organizations. JVs serve as teachers and staff at Nativity Miguel and Cristo Rey schools and other Jesuit educational institutions. JVs may also serve in social ministry and pastoral ministry capacities at Jesuit parishes and other Jesuit apostolates.
Support and Formation
The support and formation provided to JVs has direct connection to Ignatian spirituality, often to Jesuits themselves. In many cities, there are Jesuits who serve as spiritual directors for JVs or provide "on the ground" support to a JV community. In addition, JVC offers a guided silent retreat with spiritual direction to help JVs reflect upon the experiences of a challenging and fruitful year.
Catholicism and Social Teachings
The social teachings of the Catholic Church provide the foundation for a Jesuit Volunteer's reflection on their experience of social injustice in the world.
JVs strive to live in solidarity with those living on the margins of society in the spirit of respecting all human dignity and life. JVC opens a space to break bread with a diversity of people and witness the faces and stories of people who have been oppressed, forgotten, and discarded.
As it says in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, "The Church's social doctrine must become an integral part of the ongoing formation of the lay faithful." The hope of investing in the common good rings true throughout Catholic social teaching, and JVC continues to cultivate that hope and trust in all of its communities.