The mission of the Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality is to enrich, through an integrated program of prayer and Ignatian Spiritual reflection, the lives and experience of persons fifty or older who are doing community service.  Please download for a pdf overview of our work:  CISS Overview 2016

Ignatian Companions engages women and men, retired and semi-retired, who have a desire to serve those most marginalized in our communities while deepening their spiritual foundations. Our Companions integrate their personal journey of faith with their own conviction to act for justice within local nonprofits. Ours is a program that aims to transform both the giver and the receiver. We strive to create an integration in which our Companions meet the needs of those on the fringes while maintaining a contemplative prayer practice that roots this work in the values of Jesuit spirituality.

Founded in Santa Clara County in 2008 with just 6 members, Ignatian Companions expanded to Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in 2010. Today, we are proud to have engaged over 100 people in our South Bay and East Bay communities. Ignatian Companions is guided by a part- time Director who works closely with our Regional Advisory Board, our volunteer Local Teams and a cadre of contracted facilitators.


Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality (CISS Profile) begins as a one-year program that focuses on the integration and deepening of prayer and service.    Ignatian Companions has created a powerful, community-based program based on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Our participants (called Companions) volunteer in diverse agencies, donating between 8-12 hours weekly. They convene once a month with program staff for service reflection in small cohorts of 10-12 people. Our curriculum encourages Companions to consider their personal sense of vocation during their second half of life. This vocation, we believe, is a vocation that unabashedly embraces and acts for the poor.

We play a key role in building community and creating opportunity for elder volunteers. Companions dedicate their time to social issues such as education, healthcare, poverty, inequity and restorative justice. Our members serve in prisons, with trafficked minors, for those who are hungry and homeless, and alongside migrants. Our impact is growing as more people learn about our commitment to justice and our dedication to the spiritual formation that supports longevity in this challenging work.

Each Companion, at every level of formation, commits to consistent weekly service to the poor and marginalized of the community – daily prayer and devotion – periods of retreat – monthly meetings with the Companions community.

Currently we have three communities within the Bay Area Region.  Our first community started in 2008 in the South Bay at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California.  In 2010 we expanded our program to the East Bay in partnership with the Jesuit School of Theology-SCU, in Berkeley, CA.   In the fall of 2013,  San Francisco will start its first program of Companions in conjunction with the Ignatian Spirituality Center at St Agnes Parish.

Ignatian Companions is a program rich with prayer and social justice.  We focus on participants,  inviting them to deeper,  more meaningful service and towards a life that embraces a relationship with God.  Our programmatic format is unique and very successful.

Program Cost.     Our approach is simple:  We invite participants, alumni, community foundations and Jesuit partners to share in the stewardship of our program resources. Participants are asked to contribute $500.  This contribution includes registration, the spirituality curriculum, our two retreats and monthly sessions throughout the year.   Companions has a scholarship fund.  If financial assistance is needed, please let us know when you apply. No one will be turned away due to cost.




In the Ignatius Year (year one), Companions participate in our signature 10-month service and faith formation program which is based upon the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. The usual cohort consists of about 12 people with their monthly meetings running from September to June. The program has two components:

• The Service Component requires participants to have a consistent weekly community service commitment involving direct contact with people who are poor, marginalized, and socially vulnerable.

• The Spiritual Component requires that participants have a strong desire to deepen their relationship with God through daily prayer and monthly group conversation.  All participants should have a willingness to explore the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.


In the Hurtado Year (year two) participants use the same monthly meeting format, and their syllabus is based on texts that, while grounded in an Ignatian spiritual foundation, challenge the reader to grapple with the implications of discernment in a society where values and ethics have changed dramatically. Companions are encouraged to consider a particular and personal sense of vocation as an opportunity to live out one’s deepest desire for oneself in the context of a world with profound needs and shortcomings.

In the third year and beyond,  Xavier Companions are expected to make a deep and ongoing commitment to practicing a faith that does justice. Participants are provided with the language and basic skills they need to go out and both communicate their commitments to others, and to engage in sustained leadership and advocacy on behalf of the justice and fidelity that their spiritual and ministry experiences have engendered.

For each of these formation phases, participants are asked to commit to:

Year 1 Formation: The Ignatian Year – Heart and Hands

• A 10 month program, from September through June
• Beginning and Ending, one-day retreats
• Weekly consistent service of 6 hours minimum, to the materially poor, the voiceless, and the powerless
• A program of daily prayer and meditation, 15 – 30 minutes, based on the spiritual discipline of St. Ignatius of Loyola, using a comprehensive, written Guide for the Journey
• Monthly program meetings with other members of their group, and co-facilitators, consisting of reflection on their prayer and its connection to their volunteer service experience, a Liturgy and lunch
• Individual monthly meetings with a spiritual director, focusing on where God is calling the volunteer in life

Year 2 Formation: The Hurtado Year – Study and Service

• A 10 month program, from September through June
• Weekly consistent service of 6 hours minimum, to the materially poor, the voiceless, and the powerless
• Daily meditation, 15 – 30 minutes
• Deepen spiritual reflection through the study of texts and readings that focus on the reality of social justice and our response to the cry of the poor
• Meet monthly for Faith Sharing
• Beginning and Ending, one-day retreats
• Meet monthly with a Spiritual Director (optional)


Year 3 and Beyond: The Xavier Years – Contemplation in Action

Our Alumni,  Xaviers,  are companions who have completed the first two years of our program.  Each Companion decides the level of commitment that he or she will make for the year. For some this will mean growing their service into work of advocacy; for others it will mean availing themselves of opportunities for pilgrimage, immersion experiences, retreat, social gatherings and evenings of theological discussion.

There are many possibilities and opportunities for every Companion to remain engaged and committed to the Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality, as follows:

• Regular life of daily prayer and reflection;
• Active involvement in leadership and service,  within our program and beyond;
• Advocacy and justice action impacting systematic change;
• Periods of retreat and prayer;
• Monthly meetings with the Companions community;

• Attendance at monthly Companion liturgies
• Immersion Pilgrimages
• Participation on a CISS Subcommittee
• Companion representation on the Advisory Board
• “Walker” to companion with an Ignatian Year 1 Companion

Download our CISS Profile

Be A Companion…Support Our Work…