The Companions program is for Canisius High School juniors. It offers each student an opportunity to respond to the Ignatian call to service. He is invited to grow in self-knowledge through an experience of service to and solidarity with the marginalized. A personal encounter with communities and individuals bearing the weight of poverty, weakness, and financial dependence challenges a young man to understand these conditions while acknowledging the poverty implicit in his own weaknesses, shortcomings, and dependence. Likewise, the companionship of this encounter affirms the goodness and potential implicit in his strengths. Drawing upon four central components of community, spirituality, justice, and simple living, Companions engages the Gospel message while challenging the student to embrace struggle and discomfort in an unfamiliar context. The program seeks to foster an ongoing desire to serve the needs of the other, coupled with a lifelong commitment to justice.
- Develop an understanding of what community provides & requires
- Increase awareness of the needs of others by reducing the focus on the self
- Recognize “personal poverties” & weaknesses
- Appreciate & develop gifts & strengths
- Develop and deepen understanding of Christ and His message
- Understand the connection between spirituality and religion
- Explore the challenges and obstacles to spiritual growth and Christian living
- Recognize the role of spirituality among the materially poor
- Acknowledge our cultural inclination toward materialism
- Develop a new appreciation for essentials and simplicity
- Reduce our inclination toward excess and waste
- Distinguish the difference between “simple” and “easy”
- Explore the meaning of justice and injustice
- Recognize the existence of unjust structures and situations
- Explore the connections between poverty and injustice
- Understand the “poverty cycle” and the roots of poverty
Structured philosophically upon the foundations of the Jesuit Volunteers Corps (JVC), the Companions program of immersion trips builds upon the spiritual and ethical message of the Kairos retreat. Companions is not any one trip, but rather an Ignatian service learning curriculum that can be applied to various destinations and programs.
Following a comprehensive application, interview, and selection process along with preparatory retreats and reflections, hundreds of students have joined teachers, administrators, and staff for service learning in both domestic and international locations. Projects have included serving the homeless warm meals, tutoring immigrant students, developing awareness of our environmental needs, irrigation development, building of aqueduct systems, restoration of houses affect by flooding, and construction on Native American homes. More importantly, students and adults formed relationships with the members of the communities they lived with. Upon returning, students shared reflections illustrating how their views on justice and their roles in establishing it have changed.
Past trips include:
- Washington, DC
- Wheeling, WV
- Washington, DC
- Los Angeles, CA
- New Orleans, LA
- Cincinnati, OH
- Niagara Falls, NY
- Navajo Nation, AZ
- St. Ignatian Mission, MN
- Dominican Republic
"Compania" is an important Jesuit word. St. Ignatius strongly wanted his group to be known as the Company of Jesus, recalling both his own military background and the military metaphor for following Christ in the struggle of good against evil. And while the Jesuit order was called Societas in Latin (thus 'society' in English), the equivalent of company was retained in many European vernaculars.
A company is not a casual association, but a group of persons joined in common work or purpose or achievement. The root of company refers to persons who share bread -- a powerful ancient symbol of life; companions are persons whose lives intertwine, whose lives depend upon one another. In the American Jesuit experience, this company reaches beyond the Society of Jesus, even beyond the collaborators in Jesuit ministry. It includes students and alumni, parishioners and retreatants; it includes persons who see our pictures and read our words and hear our voices and our music. And it includes the generous friends who are interested in all Jesuit ministries and who support them.
For more information, please contact Mr. Ronald Ahrens, '91 at firstname.lastname@example.org.