A life of service brings joy. The Alum Service Corps (ASC) exemplifies this simple truth through education and service to high school students. Dan Everson, SJ, the new Ignatian formation coordinator for the ASC, hopes that ASC volunteers experience the joy that comes from this life of service.
Everson has a background in teaching, having served as an ASC volunteer in 2012 before he entered the Society of Jesus. His Jesuit regency brought him to Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver, where he found more opportunities to serve others through education.
“When I put my service to students before all else, it made me happier than I’ve ever been,” Everson said. “I hope our volunteers can show students the joy of a life of service – a life that puts others first.”
The ASC is a post-college volunteer program for alums of Jesuit secondary and higher education institutions. ASC volunteers serve for a year as volunteer faculty members in Jesuit middle and high schools in the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. They provide a witness of generosity in which they wish to grow through their integration of Ignatian service and spirituality (from the ASC website).
The directors and coordinators of the ASC accompany volunteers who are recently out of college, and those volunteers go on to accompany youth in middle and high schools as teachers, coaches and mentors. Everson hopes that he can serve as a model for ASC volunteers as they prepare to bring spirituality and accompaniment to the classroom.
“My ministry is to inspire a life of service in them,” said Everson. “I hope they pass that on to students who will continue to shape the future as they go on to college.”
Everson finds ways to inspire a hope-filled future for ASC volunteers through the two major parts of his ministry: orientation and retreats.
The ties between pedagogy and spirituality are highlighted during ASC orientation. Everson collaborates with De Smet Jesuit High School teacher Rob Hutchison to bring in experienced educators who can speak to the volunteers about effective teaching strategies. Everson also teaches lessons on Ignatian spirituality to the volunteers, sharing a comprehensive look at the spiritual side of what the ASC does. The fall and spring retreats that Everson organizes have a similar purpose: They remind volunteers that their educational mission is inseparable from their spiritual mission, revealing God at work in their lives.
“Every part of ASC gives volunteers a chance to connect with the spiritual side of what they do,” said Everson. “Still, it can be difficult to stay engaged with spirituality amid the rush of teaching, coaching and living in community. I look for ways to reconnect our volunteers with their spirituality, showing them the ‘why’ behind their work in ASC.”
This “education meets spiritual formation” approach to ministry speaks to the ASC’s three pillars: spiritual, communal and professional. Everson emphasizes the importance of all three pillars working together to show the Holy Spirit’s presence in the volunteers’ work.
“An ASC volunteer is open to spiritual growth and spiritual practice in the work they do,” said Everson. “The goal is not to have them teach a perfect lesson after a week of training. The goal is to see if they understand two things: the aspects of what makes a good lesson and the desire to nurture a spirit of service in the students they teach.”
Everson’s ultimate hope is that the volunteers will find joy in their service and inspire that joy in the students they accompany. “I hope our volunteers see teaching as more than a career,” said Everson. “It is an invitation to share the joy of a life of service with others. I also hope they notice God present in the classroom, accompanying them in everything they do.”
Think you might be called to life as a Jesuit priest or brother? Visit BeAJesuit.org for more information on the Jesuit vocation.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities through the Alum Service Corps, visit AlumServiceCorps.com.