Three weeks in

It’s Labor Day weekend and we are two weeks into the academic year here at St. Ignatius. Thus far it has been a joy to experience the vibrancy of the intellectual pursuit, the compassion expressed in service to those in need, the passion for greater intimacy with God present here at my famed alma mater. It has been fruitful and fun to begin working with the faculty and staff of the school as an adult, rather than as a student – though of course getting used to calling everyone by first names was a little awkward for a week or two!

No less has it been a joy to begin to get to know the young men being formed here at the school. Although I am not entirely surprised, I am certainly impressed by the maturity of not a few of the students here at the school. Friday’s Mass of the Holy Spirit at the Cathedral and subsequent CAT Service Leadership Day at Lakeview Cemetery were great expressions of the faith of the Ignatius men. Without any prompting from the celebrants of the Mass, the entire student body, even those outside the pews and without kneelers, dropped to their knees in reverence for the action occurring on the altar. Hearing a few of the students’ rewording of Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity at the end of Service Leadership Day blew me away and gave me great confidence in those high school volunteers I will be working with in the various Arrupe after school programs this year.

Life at the Rutilio Grande SJ house has been peaceful, refreshing, and fun thus far, whether through “porchin'” out front with Michael and Andrew, watching soccer games on Wasmer field, or spending quiet time reading and reflecting in my room. I’m very grateful to have two excellent roommates, whom I have gotten along with instantly. It’s pretty remarkable to move in with two virtual strangers and hit it off immediately, and to continue that momentum of friendship almost a month in. But perhaps I should have expected no less, considering we are “Ignatius men forever,” united in the common bond of the spirit of this school.

If you’re curious what the inner realms of the volunteer house look like, here are a few pictures to give you an idea.

The view upon walking in the front door. Rutilio himself adorns the wall to the right.

The living room, where lounging is done and Cleveland sports dreams hopefully come true.

The site of now-legendary porchin' sessions.

Sneak peek into my living quarters.

Despite a leak here and there, the house is holding up quite well. For three young men fresh from college, it definitely gets the job done.

The three of us, as well as Jesuit Volunteer Emily Brickner, have gotten to know the Arrupe staff particularly well thus far, mainly through orientation sessions two weeks ago and beginning to form lesson plans for programs during last week. It’s been exciting working with such a young yet experienced staff thus far. All three staff members either have worked for Arrupe for some time (John) or done a year long service assignment with Arrupe in the recent past (Pat was an AV two years ago, and Megan was a JV that same year). A wonderfully faith-filled spirit, one that is remarkably attentive to and knowledgeable about the needs of those they serve, possesses those who work the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership. It will be great to have this spirit rub off on me as programs begin in a few weeks.

Our neighbors in the Jesuit community have also welcomed us quite hospitably thus far. We have continued our twice-a-week dinners on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which always results in some full stomachs and lively conversation. Fr. Libens has led us well thus far in the basic ways of Ignatian spirituality, primarily in the Examination of Consciousness, as the core part of our bi-weekly formational meetings. The aid our neighbors give us, both corporally and spiritually, is a great gift I look forward to growing in (though hopefully not too much in the physical sense) throughout the course of the year.

Things will begin in earnest in the coming weeks when driving for Sophomore Service and Arrupe afterschool programs begin full force. Look for some more detailed reflections on life serving those in secondary Catholic education in the next few weeks.

About Michael Williams

Ardent greater Clevelander. Brewing industry laborer. Future Theology teacher. Truth seeker. Beloved adopted son of the Father thru JC in the Spirit.
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