Ignatian Volunteer Paula Roberts; syndicated columnist and TV moderator Mark Shields; and Suzanne Geaney, the executive director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, were among the speakers at the group's recent "Evening of Gratitude."
Ignatian Volunteer Paula Roberts; syndicated columnist and TV moderator Mark Shields; and Suzanne Geaney, the executive director of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, were among the speakers at the group's recent "Evening of Gratitude."
Beginning with a Mass at St. Aloysius Church in Washington, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps celebrated its third annual Evening of Gratitude on April 26. The senior citizens who serve as Ignatian Volunteers and their sponsors expressed their gratitude to God and one another.

Jesuit Father Jim Connor, the homilist, made clear: those present were there to express their thanks "mutually, Eucharistically, and permanently." The Archdiocesan Mass Choir, directed by Henry Herrera and Lynne Gray, helped make the joy palpable, frequently bringing those present to their feet and moving them to participate in the spirited singing, making it clear to all present, as the entrance hymn expressed: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

Jesuit Father Bruce Steggert, presided at the Mass, and he was joined by nine concelebrants, including Msgr. Ralph Kuehner, a retired priest of the archdiocese who helped found the So Others Might Eat soup kitchen and Victory Housing for the frail elderly; and Father John Adams, another archdiocesan priest who now directs SOME, which provides a range of services to the area's poor.

changing lives

In his homily, Father Connor noted that the IVC partners with 43 agencies in Washington, Maryland, and northern Virginia. He emphasized, however, that those most influenced by the work of the Ignatian Volunteers are not the agencies and the homeless and disenfranchised being served: "More likely, it is you, the servants, mutually collaborating with Christ and one another, who have been most influenced... You are permanently changed. So, however unwittingly, the gratitude you are expressing tonight is permanent. It has become a lifetime attitude."

Following the Mass at St. Aloysius, those present moved on to the Commons at Gonzaga College High School, where they were welcomed by Dennis Lucey, IVC Regional Council member, and then addressed briefly by Mark Shields, syndicated columnist and TV commentator; Paula Roberts, Ignatian volunteer; and Suzanne Geaney, the program's executive director.

Shields noted that this society needs to move in the direction in which "the strong are more just and the weak among us more secure." He continued his remarks by noting, "God has no hands but ours and no checkbook other than our own. We have all been warmed by fires we did not build and drink from wells that we did not dig."

how to help

The Ignatian Volunteer Corps provides men and women, aged 50 and greater, opportunities to serve others, to address social injustice and to transform lives. IVC matches the talents of capable volunteers with the greatest social needs of our time and works in partnership with hundreds of community organizations.

These nonprofit organizations provide Ignatian Volunteers with substantive work to serve individuals who have slipped through this country's safety net. Many community organizations are on waiting lists to get an Ignatian Volunteer.

Volunteers are supported in their Christian faith by IVC's unique spiritual reflection program. Through their caring service and the relationships they build, Ignatian Volunteers are helping to create a more just society.