REIGNITING IGNATIAN VOLUNTEERISM
“What more can we do as volunteers?” These were the words of Ms. Jeraldine Ching that challenged the thirty (30) PJPS volunteers during the first PJPS Volunteers’ Formation Session for this year. It happened last June 30, 2019, at St. Joseph Chapel at South Green Heights Village, Muntinlupa City. It was a day packed with talks and sharing facilitated by Ms. Ching and Mr. Miguel Luis Vergara. Ms. Ching encouraged the volunteers to look deeper into their traits and how these traits can be improved to better serve the community. Ignatian spirituality calls it “magis”—what more can we do. Aside from reflecting on the call and virtues of the volunteers, both facilitators also shared some highlights in the life and teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Integrated into the talks were small group sharing of the volunteers. In the sharing, the call to serve of the volunteers were deepened and they were deeply moved to respond to the call to love and service. After the sumptuous lunch, Ms. Ching presented the whole year module drafted by the parent' team “at-a-glance” to be used by the volunteers for scholars’ and their parents' formation sessions. The modules were patterned after the theme of the Year of the Youth which is Beloved, Gifted, and Empowered. Ms. Ching also facilitated the preparation of Module for August per level. After which each of the group presented their unique and creative module for August. Capping the whole day activity was the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Rev. Fr. Firmo “JunG” Bargayo, SJ. The readings of the Mass captured all the reflections of the day. In the gospel, Jesus taught that in following Him, one should not bother oneself with concerns of family, work, etc. but trustfully and faithfully follow His lead.
In his homily, Fr. Jun-G emphasized to all the volunteers what it means to be “free”—to exercise our freedom in following the Lord. He further said, quoting the Spiritual Exercises, “we should not prefer neither health nor sickness, riches nor poverty, honor nor dishonor, long life nor a short life. . . . Our one desire and choice should lead us more to Jesus”. How can this be? Fr. JunG said that Ignatius of Loyola teaches that we have to be careful with our attachments to our desires—our desire for health, long life, honor, wealth for it can also prevent us from that which we were made for: to love, serve, and praise God. This may seem like a bizarre—who wouldn’t desire to be healthy? Who wouldn’t want a long life? But Ignatius is asking us to examine our desires more deeply and ask the important question, why? Desiring health so that we can be proud of how healthy we are is very different from desiring health so that we can serve God and others better. If our desires hinder us from loving God and serving our neighbor, then we need to let them go. The homily shared by Fr. JunG deeply challenged the volunteers to let go of their inordinate desires and attachments so that they could be more available to respond to the call to service.
To end the day, immediately after the Mass, the volunteers gathered around the image of St. Joseph for a photo opportunity and enjoyed the simple snacks.