Spiritual reflector guide volunteers carefully and prayerfully

April 25, 2008

Richard Horwitt is a very busy guy. The 64-year-old retiree works three days a week driving an adult day care center van. He tutors English for the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) at Catholic Charities’ Hispanic Apostolate in Fells Point. He’s involved with the Service, Justice and Life Commission in his parish, St. Joseph, Sykesville. He’s a prison volunteer. He travels to Peru every other year to St. Joseph’s partner parish, and he has a wife, two kids and six grandchildren.

Plus, Mr. Horwitt would like to add an additional activity – becoming a facilitator for Community Conferencing, a juvenile program related to keeping youths out of the court system.

As the eager volunteer wonders whether or not it would be too much, he looks to his spiritual reflector – Father James A. Casciotti, S.J. – for advice.

“Maybe now is not the time to take on another thing,” Father Casciotti, pastor of St. Ignatius in Baltimore and an IVC spiritual reflector, may advise his charge. 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 organization has nine spiritual reflectors in the Baltimore region assigned to 18 volunteers.

Father Casciotti’s role is to listen “carefully and prayerfully” as volunteers describe their experience,” he said. “You want them to keep the discernment … where God may be calling them and where they may be blocking it.”

The mild-mannered Mr. Horwitt describes the priest as “an excellent listener,” not pushy, who makes comments only when it seems necessary, so the sessions are “driven by me. It’s good for people to get things out of themselves. A lot of times it’s in our head and that’s where it stays. To take something out of your heart – there’s a lot of growth in that, I think.”

Another element to the IVC volunteer experience is keeping a journal. The silver-haired volunteer peruses his about once a week, more or less, and details experiences and thoughts about many different things.

Reflecting on the past year of spiritual guidance from Father Casciotti, Mr. Horwitt knows he has grown spiritually. He describes his journey in one word – awareness.

“My relationship with my Lord is deeper. I’m more conscious of other people,” he said.


Ignatian volunteers commit to work two days a week for a year in service to the poor, mid-September through June. If interested in becoming an IVC volunteer, e-mail wmacsherry@ivcusa.org or call 410-752-4686.