They have banded together to live out these four pillars for a year, to embody the ideals of the world’s most famous Jesuit, whose church exists not in the pews of a cathedral but in the midst of people in need.
On September 15th, the Washington Post published a feature on the JVC (Jesuit Volunteer Corps) entitled “A Church in the Streets”. It gives an inside glimpse of a year of service program as a volunteer. The article highlights the first week of six young people (coming from Catholic Universities) who have set out to live a simple life of community and service for a year with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) in Washington D.C., USA. The volunteer year is centred around the four pillars of Spirituality, Simple Lifestyle (e.g. living on 1 $ a day), Community and Social Justice, inspired by Jesuit values.
“Over the past month, in 37 U.S. cities and six other countries, nearly 300 recent college graduates have jumped off career paths and sprinted to the margins of society. They have banded together to live out these four pillars for a year, to embody the ideals of the world’s most famous Jesuit, whose church exists not in the pews of a cathedral but in the midst of people in need.”
This article comes at a time where the US is preparing for the visit of Pope Francis later in September. One of the volunteers even mentions inviting the Pope into their ‘humble abode’.
“They are idealistic. They are nervous. They know they are fortunate white interlopers in a city that isn’t theirs, working with populations that may or may not be open to their good intentions”.
The experiences of living in community, living simply, serving those in need and taking the time to reflect on all of it results in what ex-volunteers call being “ruined for life”.
“Ruined for life,” says Bob Glennon, the kitchen’s director of social services, repeating a JVC catchphrase that explains how the experience transforms one’s understanding of the world.
Many present and former Jesuit volunteers will resonate with this experience of leaving their comfort zones…
They might cut their own hair, or not cut it at all.
They will curb their coffee habits and forget the college-caliber drinking.
They will be fine with showering while two others are using the bathroom sink.
They will distinguish their wants from their needs, and this will bring them closer together.”
This story about a life of community and service, inspired by Jesuit values, captures the JVC experience very well and highlights the possibility of living differently; living along four basic values that might have a long lasting impact and change these young people’s lives for the better.
Note: In Europe the acronym JVC stands for Jesuit Volunteer Community.