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JP de Legarreta: Why Ignite?

Often, an innocuous decision ends up drastically changing your life. I spent the majority of 2018 in search for answers. I was out of work and considering several drastic career changes. I went from working in sales to the legal field and then searching for something else that would fulfill me. I took online classes in programming, real estate, online marketing, social media advertising, management, search engine optimization, data analysis, and a few more. I was desperately needed an answer, and I threw everything I had at the wall to see what would stick.

One day, I came across a posting for an internship program at the Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford. It intrigued me. I grew more excited as I read, until I saw the starting date: August, 2018. It was already August 8th. Great, I thought, another missed opportunity. I left the page and ignored it a couple days.

Though I had given up on it, as I had with so many other opportunities, God had other plans. Eventually, I came back to it and decided to reach out to the program director, just for more information. Our email exchange was pleasant, and I got really interested in the position. I was told they had an open spot, and was encouraged to apply for it. I sent in my materials. Two short weeks later, I was hired and came out to the center to meet the team and go on retreat with them.

I came to the JSC because I was looking for a shift in my life. Two jobs in fields I had little interest in had left me weary, depressed, and far from God. I was afraid of leaving my home, of failing at another career, and (most of all) working in yet another place that left me unfulfilled. I knew little about the center, Cincinnati, or how Jesuit spirituality would manifest in a retreat setting. I was nervous and unsure how to proceed. Thankfully, I felt the tug of the Lord on my heart, and I was drawn to accept their offer to join the team. This decision completely changed my life. As soon as I arrived in Cincinnati, I was met by Matthew, our Assistant Director of Youth Ministry. Matthew’s hospitality, humor, friendship, and kindness assured me that I had made the right decision, and that I would be welcomed here. Meeting the rest of the team confirmed what I had learned and immediately I felt an immense weight lifted off my shoulders.

The Jesuit Spiritual Center has been my home for the last six months. I’ve learned about myself as a minister, as an adult, as a professional, and as a son of God. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone to better serve other people. I’ve been challenged to live in community with five other brilliant ministers and sacrifice and serve them as best as I can. I’ve been asked to work on platforms and programs with which I was unfamiliar, and produce content for them. Most importantly, I have been pushed to confront my fears and shortcomings in prayer, and earnestly develop a relationship with God.

The ministry we do at JSC has taught me new activities, techniques, and materials for retreats. It’s grown my confidence in public speaking, refined my skills as a small group leader, and developed my management proficiencies. More than just learning how to listen to others, manage a crowd, and play praise and worship music for others, the retreat ministry has taught me to actively engage in life, not just treat it like work. Every time we work a retreat, I participate in it myself. I seek to learn and grow, just like the retreatants. It’s helped me find more direction, peace, and joy.

The direction, guidance, and mentorship from the staff here extends far beyond the work we do. Conversations about vocation, friendship, working relationships, camaraderie, faith, and personal growth have all helped me to let go of things that I held on to and hesitated to offer up to God. The honesty with which I have been able to confront and challenge myself has been incredibly important and an unprecedented gift. The staff are really concerned about the whole person, and I have been abundantly blessed by all those who work here. There is something powerful that brings people to our center, and much of that is driven by the great faith that the staff has in the work they do and in the ministry they perform on a daily basis.

I am most grateful to the Center for its encouragement and providing me ample opportunity to grow in my prayer life and relationship with God. The expansive property, beautiful worship spaces, diverse books, and integrated spirituality have taken my relationship with God to the front of my mind. I have been given the time and opportunity here to nurture my faith and dedicate serious time to prayer. This has turned my life around. I am filled with hope, tranquility, and fulfillment again. Silencing my mind and my heart here and the tools I have been given and taught to enhance that are invaluable and among the biggest blessings of my time here.

The decision to come to the JSC was a risk. I had to move far from home, engage in work I had not practiced in years, and live with strangers. At the most, I thought it would be good working experience and that I would get a nice break from unemployment. What I found, instead, was a home for the mind, body, and soul. I found a place with good people that believe in their work and in each other. I found spiritual healing, nourishment, and peace. I found a home.

If you or anyone you know may be interested in our Ignite Internship, you can find the application here