By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

In his senior years a spiritual vocation has gradually replaced the temporal. John Trumbore had a successful career in the advertising industry, and since his retirement in 2000 from Harris, Baio and McCullough he has developed a vocation in the social justice field.

He is the father of two adult children: Anne, who lives in California, and Mark, who is in Washington, D.C.

His wife, also Anne, died in 1993 after long-term multiple sclerosis. While she was alive, in addition to being a husband and father, Trumbore was a caregiver, active with the Greater Delaware Valley Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In 1995 he joined the newly formed Ignatian Volunteer Corps through which mature volunteers over age 50 commit themselves to at least 600 hours of service a year. He was assigned to assist at Holy Name Parish in Camden, N.J., which was conducted by the Jesuit Fathers. There he assisted (and still assists) with financial matters of a development program to keep the heavily Hispanic inner-city parish and school afloat. Part of what he does is write newsletters and brochures designed to support the parish ministry.

In 1995 he relocated from Sacred Heart Parish in Manoa, Delaware County, to Philadelphia, a natural move because he worked in the city.

“I enjoyed my career, but I wanted something more,” he said, explaining why he became an active member of Old St. Joseph Parish.

Just about the time of his retirement a social justice committee was formed in the parish and “it all started coming together,” he said. In addition to volunteer work in the parish ministry to the poor, he is a member of its Ignatian Spirituality Committee, a lector and a monthly visitor to Pennsylvania Hospital as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

His personal spiritual life was enhanced two years ago when he underwent the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, something that has added discipline to his religious practice, which includes being a daily communicant, mostly at Old St. Joseph’s 12:05 p.m. Mass.

“My post-career career is an opportunity to share the development and marketing skills I developed in my profession,” Trumbore said. “Marketing becomes evangelization.”

At one point he seriously considered becoming a Peace Corps volunteer, but that had to be shelved because of health issues.

A most recent venture for Trumbore was participation in a visit to the Children’s Village and other children’s facilities in Meru, Kenya, with the Michigan-based Friends of Kenya Orphans (FOKO). Most of the facilities visited were established by a local priest, Father Francis Limo Riwa; they shelter hundreds of children who were orphaned by AIDS or are victims of various forms of abuse.

“We were reminded of how grateful we must be for the everyday gifts in our lives like clean water, sewage treatment, paved roads, social welfare programs and many other amenities that we enjoy and often take for granted,” he said.

“Most of all, we were overwhelmed by the clarity of Christ’s teachings that we must love all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world and share our gifts and talents with them. We know now, more than ever, there is no ‘wiggle room’ in those commandments.”

Whether it is in Camden, Philadelphia or Kenya, working with those in need “is seeing the Gospel up close,” Trumbore said.

“You can go into this wanting to do good and a lot of time you don’t see an immediate effect,” he said. “It becomes more about you than the people you are trying to help. You have to ask, ‘do you want to lead the way into the promised land or do you want to accompany them in the desert?’ You may lead them into the promised land but that is not your primary goal. You want to walk in solidarity with them.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.