‘Have I helped someone today?’
This is the question Fr. Bob Braunreuther, SJ, poses to himself at the end of each day. His generous gifts of time and talent as a spiritual reflector with the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVC) allow him to answer, “Yes!” They are also part of the reason IVC honored him with the Ignatian Spirituality Award at its annual Evening of Gratitude Saturday, April 25.
Fr. Braunreuther was recognized at an award ceremony accompanying a mass and reception at Loyola University Chicago’s Madonna della Strada Chapel and Ignatius House Jesuit Community. Ordained to the priesthood in 1965, Fr. Braunreuther has had a long and varied career. Among other ministries, he has worked as a campus minister and University Chaplain to Athletics at Boston College, studied philosophy in Germany, ministered to homeless men with substance abuse issues in Baltimore, and served as oral translator for Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ. Fr. Rahner and St. Ignatius, says Fr. Braunreuther, originally formulated the guiding question with which he closes his day.
“Everything I have written,” Fr. Rahner told Fr. Braunreuther, “I have written for pastoral purposes, that is to help people.”
“We exist,” St. Ignatius wrote, “to help souls.”
Bill Schramm, an Ignatian Volunteer who visited Fr. Braunreuther for spiritual direction and presented him with his award, said Fr. Braunreuther served that role of a helping, spiritual guide to him.
|Dick Shea; Bill Schramm; Fr. Bob Braunreuther, SJ; and Mike Tyrrell at the Ignatian Volunteer Corps' Evening of Gratitude|
“When I arrived for our first meeting, I felt like I was going to see the dentist,” joked Schramm. “But Fr. Braunreuther eased my anxiety with his quick smile and expression of God’s love and mercy.”
This August, Fr. Braunreuther will move to the Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus to work as Minister for the Jesuit Community at Fairfield University in Connecticut. Fortunately, he will still have the opportunity to provide spiritual direction and present the Spiritual Exercises to Fairfield’s faculty, staff, and students.
“A day I never see someone in pastoral counseling,” Fr. Braunreuther explained, “is kind of an empty day.”
The Evening of Gratitude also recognized Sr. JoAnn Persch, R.S.M. and Sr. Pat Murphy, R.S.M. with the Madonna della Strada Award for their work with detained immigrants, as well as Catholic Charities with the George Sullivan Magis Award. Like Fr. Braunreuther, the other award recipients offered a powerful example of how people can respond to God’s call in the world.
“We do things peacefully and respectfully,” shared Sr. Murphy, “but we don’t take ‘No’ for an answer!”
IVC Chicago is a non-profit organization with 53 volunteers serving 38 other non-profit organizations throughout the Chicago area. Volunteers’ ministries include tutoring and mentoring at all levels of education, working in food pantries and shelters, ESL and employment programs, serving in hospital chaplaincy and prison ministry, and numerous other social services. Visit www.ivcusa.org/chicago to learn more.