Combining spirituality and volunteerism

By Robert Merikangas
Resident Writer Several

Riderwood residents have been active in the national organization, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC). As members, they have done volunteer work with many service organizations. Some are still active, while others are listed as emeritus volunteers in the local directory of the Metro DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia area.

Currently active are these and others: Ronnie Lowell, volunteering with Bread for the World, and Colin Moran with Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC). Colin is a new resident, and recently started volunteering the IVC standard of two days a week, serving as an administrative assistant. He has been working one-on-one to help a woman from Ethiopia learn to read and speak English. Another resident has been helping those who are getting out of prison and need help getting back to work.

The Riderwood members gather regularly to share and to connect their experiences with their spiritual life. Except during the summer, they meet monthly to pray, reflect, and discuss a book chosen nationally. At these monthly gatherings, active residents—Joe Jones, Kate Finan, Ronnie Lowell, Colin Moran, and Ginny Novak—meet with a total of about 12 people, including residents no longer active and other IVC volunteers from the area.

Each volunteer also meets monthly with a spiritual reflector. Information from a publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore states that “volunteers meet monthly with their spiritual reflectors to talk about the meaning of their work with the poor beyond the service experience itself, and how it contributes to growing their faith.” The local IVC leaders also schedule twoday retreats several times a year. Ginny Novak, who serves as a spiritual reflector and group facilitator said, “There are many ways to volunteer, and this is more than volunteering. It includes spiritual reflection.”

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