Ignacio Companions Program Highlights Intersection of Faith and Justice

Student playing the piano with other students gathered around

Ten LMU students traveled to Juneau, Alaska, to learn about the history and culture of the Tlingit, a Southeast Alaskan Native tribe, and to serve Juneau’s residents through Campus Ministry’s Ignacio Companions (IC) program.

Senior Kaitlynn Pimentel, a major in entrepreneurship, returned from her trip to Alaska over spring break and decided to apply to Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. “The trip was special because it was a safe space to open up about our own hardships and discuss the hardships of disenfranchised people. It highlighted the intersection between faith and justice,” said Pimentel. All three of the seniors who were on the Alaska trip are applying to be a Jesuit Volunteer next year, said Josh Mayfield, the campus minister who oversees the IC program.

While in Alaska the students served in a youth center and visited an independent living facility for people with disabilities. Students also brought with them some California cuisine by cooking breakfast tacos for people experiencing homelessness at Glory Hall in Juneau. They also attended prayer services and visited cultural museums. 

Mayfield said the students felt God was present during the trip. For example, a homeless man started to experience alcoholic withdrawal symptoms and LMU first-year student Nehemiah Clayton sat with him and hugged him. “The man really started bawling his eyes out and Nehemiah embraced him. He cried harder and said he had not been hugged like that in more than 15 years,” said Mayfield. “It was beautiful and heartbreaking.” Mayfield said the fact that all eligible students applied to JVC Northwest demonstrates how impactful are these experiences.

Students also traveled with Campus Ministry to the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico as part of the IC program’s mission to serve. In partnership with CSA Alternative Breaks, students also visited downtown Los Angeles, Nogales, Arizona, and Mexico. 

Students in the snow in Juneau Alaska as part of the Ignacio Companions program