Finding God in a New Place

I spent the better part of this summer having no idea how to describe the IGNITE internship when friends and family asked questions. My sister suggested the position to me after I had lost a job as a bank teller a few months prior. I had graduated from Miami University in May 2016 and went back to banking because it was something I had always done in the summer. I was always blessed with good coworkers but never enjoyed or felt passionate for the job. However, I had always intended to leave on my own terms. When I lost the job in February, I was at a crossroad.

This opportunity at Milford struck me. I’d always been involved in ministry since high school. Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University’s youth group had been a transformational part of my last two years of high school. St. Mary Catholic Campus Ministry in Oxford was one of my most important extra curriculars in college.  And I’d even returned to Bellarmine Youth Group since graduation as an adult volunteer. But I hadn’t really considered youth ministry as part of my career path until I had read the internship brochure.

Reading the position description, I found a comfort that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Bellarmine Youth Group has been the most fulfilling work I had done since graduation and I knew the JSC’s campus well from a couple Kairos retreats I had done with St. Mary’s. The Milford campus was a place of peace, and I wanted to be part of that.

I don’t have a theology degree. I studied English literature in college and never considered what having a job at a Catholic institution would be like. Further, I’d gone to public school since seventh grade at Walnut Hills. So, I was not expecting my interview here to begin with a prayer. In fact, in the back of my mind I wasn’t even sure if we were allowed to do that. But now I’m about to spend 10 months starting prayer for a few hundred teenagers.

Building our new community together.

There are more than a few new things this internship is going to force me into. I’ve sung in choirs at school and church since seventh grade, but I’ve managed to avoid learning an instrument until I now. We’ll see how well I can play piano by the end of May. And even though I lived in a dorm for four years in college, community living is foreign to me. I’d never tried to grocery shop for myself until last Tuesday. Will we need three Spanish onions in our house? We’ll find out.

But above all, while I can’t predict how I will feel by the end of the 10 months, I find comfort from every aspect of my new job. My fellow interns are a blend of deep faith and religious passion that I have never really experienced in young adult Catholics before. The full-time staff-members have all been beyond welcoming. And the entire campus of Milford is designed with the presence of the Spirit in mind. I pray that I can find God in all things here.

Published by

Joe Neidhard

Joe is a Cincinnati native and 2016 graduate of Miami University. His first experience at The Jesuit Spiritual Center came volunteering for college Kairos retreats with St. Mary Catholic Catholic Campus Ministry in Oxford, Ohio. The Ignite internship is an opportunity to embrace both youth ministry and Ignatian spirituality, two long-held interests.