Little did Mariah Snyder know that her retirement after 40 years of nursing would be just the beginning of a whole new life through the Ignatian Associates. Mariah knew she wanted to continue ministering to those in need. In 2004, she saw an ad in a Diocesan newspaper about the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC), an opportunity for retired persons to volunteer in their local community in partnership with the Jesuits. The Jesuit commitment to social justice had always appealed to her, but she knew little of their spirituality. She had read a few books about Jesuits and been on an Archdiocesan commission with a Jesuit, but had no idea of the profound personal implications the Spiritual Exercises would have for her.
A fellow member of the Diocesan Commission on Women told her about an Ignatian Associate community information session and the IA commitment to forming lay people through the Spiritual Exercises. Mariah recalls the idea of making Promises seemed so daunting at that session. Today she sees them as freeing.
“I keep going back to the Principle and Foundation again and again,” she declares. “The Spiritual Exercises have a profound impact on how I pray and on how I live out my faith.” Today she is leading an 8 session retreat in daily life for parishioners at an inner city parish. She has also led retreats at the women’s correctional facility.
Mariah’s vigor and passion for living out her contemplative life are unending. She has partnered with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis since it opened, fulfilling many roles from librarian to assisting with recruitment, to assisting students with service projects such as reading to elders at a nursing home. In collaboration with other Ignatian Associates, Mariah saw her many trips to churches throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul to share information about Cristo Rey as a Pilgrimage. “A pilgrimage of invitation to those in need,” she called it.
Mariah credits the IA community for keeping her going. “Our community aspect is so strong. We meet twice a month for faith sharing and liturgy. Being a prayer partner with Jesuit novices has also been a wonderful part of being an IA. This ongoing support gives a place for accountability.” Within a year of making her first Promises, Mariah was actually leading the local community in a two-year term as a “Conservi” or community leader.
Even with countless hours of service to the IA and Jesuit communities, Mariah will say that she has received far more than she has given. “The exposure to Ignatian Spirituality and growth in it with others has been the greatest gift.” This awareness of self and the needs of others leads to gratitude and ultimately to service. “As an Ignatian Associate, I don’t put my life or faith into compartments.” It is finding God in all things.