Elaine Rawlins

Elaine Rawlins

I have been working as the director of London Jesuit Volunteers based in Mount Street for the past two years. Volunteers give regular time to many different social justice projects principally in the London area, and then come together as a community once a month to reflect and pray with their experiences and grow in their faith and knowledge of Ignatian spirituality.

When I applied for the post in the summer of 2014, I felt it was a dream job for me that combined my many years of working with people experiencing vulnerability and social injustice together with connecting to a working faith community.

My life has been about listening and sharing in others journeys on a pilgrimage that ultimately connects each of us together.

From nursing and hospice care in my younger days, I have been working with people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, older people, those in housing poverty and with Citizen's Advice.

Having a strong faith as a child I grew in my practice of adult prayer and community during a seminal 18 months of living as a resident at Worth Abbey Benedictine lay community in 1989. I am still part of the Lay community of St. Benedict.

Indeed, two of the residents with me then are also firmly established with working with the Jesuits today in St Beuno's and Glasgow. It seems Ignatius has a firm hold!

I first met Jesuits in my year at Heythrop, Cavendish Square, whilst studying pastoral theology and I followed that year with joining the Ursulines for the next 25, leaving in 2015. That would need another page.

My yearly retreats, together with two thirty day retreats were mostly Ignatian and I met both Jesuits in formation and in the parish of Wimbledon during my years in religious life.

It is a privilege to share in another's journey wherever you meet. As well as the time I spend in initially interviewing potential volunteers in my work for LJV today where we explore both opportunities for voluntary work and their life of faith and prayer, I have once again had the chance to be involved  in prayer guidance and assisting with retreat days. The circle has returned.

I will be off to St Buenos soon to complete the second part of the prayer guidance course that I started at Loyola Hall over 20 years ago.

I still do some work at the coal face so to speak outside of my time at Mount Street, but it is humbling to be able to support and listen to the volunteers in their work with LJV in a more managerial role.

The plus side of working at Mount Street is that I feel part of the residential and organisational community who I meet with daily. We even pray together regularly. That is the indeed the Magis. It is both an encouragement and a challenge which brings me great joy.