Vince and Robyn Caponi of Indianapolis, Indiana, have spent their lives connected to the Jesuits and their works. Robyn is a board member of the Ignatian Solidarity Network and Vince, the chief executive officer for St. Vincent Health, is on the board of trustees for Xavier University. Their strong connection with the Jesuits deepened after their daughter Cara joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. After two years in Tacna, Peru, working at Colegio Miguel Pro, Cara stayed for a third to help establish the new community in Andahuaylillas, Peru. We spoke with Robyn and Vince about their experience being parents of an international JV and why they choose to financially support JVC.
We anticipated that Cara would want to do some sort of service when she graduated from college. While at Boston College, Cara studied abroad in El Salvador and there volunteered twice a week in the community of Mariona, so it seemed like a natural choice for her to pursue a position as a Jesuit Volunteer to serve in Central or South America. In her second year as a JV , Cara felt that she could be helpful to the volunteers who would be establishing a new JVC community in Andahuaylillas the following year. We all agreed that she might be experiencing a call to spend a third year in Peru. We encouraged her to think about it seriously and to apply.
If we could offer any advice to parents of young people who are JV s, we would suggest being supportive, respectful, encouraging, appreciative, and interested. This is a special opportunity and they are to be admired for stepping out in faith to experience the world in a way that many of us never have. It was important to be respectful of the other members of the community in the house, too—being careful to not tie up the phone, to inquire about them, to include them in “care packages”— to help build solidarity in their community.
We were fortunate to go and visit Cara while she was in Peru and we experienced such warm and loving hospitality and participated in beautiful liturgies that allowed us to experience church in a new way. We also learned lessons about living simply and about the importance of spending time together as family unencumbered by all of the technology and distractions that we are surrounded by in our culture.
We had such fun times together with the volunteers and their friends over simple meals, or celebrating birthdays with a cake baked in the neighbor’s oven, or playing card games. Ignatian spirituality has influenced us and we appreciated the care that was given to the JV s through retreats and spiritual direction. Cara shared with us the things that she learned through these experiences, which helped us grow, too.
What is special about JVC is found in the name of the program—the Jesuits! St. Ignatius has inspired and guided many to “go set the world on fire.” JVC is about following that order. Before someone can set the world on fire, they have to have that fire within themselves. JVC helps people to not only discover that flame within themselves and others, but also how to share it and spread God’s love in this world. Who would not want to be a part of that?
It is our hope that JVC continues to grow and to provide the opportunities for people to share in the life-affirming work of teaching and helping people improve their lives and communities—all for the greater glory of God.