Over 10,000 Former Jesuit Volunteers comprise a network of “leaders committed to faith in action.” Fumi Tosu was profoundly influenced by his time as a JV in Brooklyn in 1999. In his role as a Catholic Worker, he is still guided by the four JVC values of Spirituality, Simple Lifestyle, Community, and Social Justice.
I went into JVC as my “last dare to God.” I had waffled back and forth in my Catholic faith as a young person. I told God, “If you’re for real, and I go ahead and work in a place with so much poverty, I’ll discover something about you. If I don’t then I’m done. I discovered God in Brooklyn. More specifically the Gospels that didn’t make sense for me until then really clicked when I was working with the kids at my placement and praying and going to mass with my JV community.
The four values made an impression on me, and it made sense to me that I wanted my life to embody these four things. Ten years after JVC, I started working at Casa de Clara. I’ve been living and working there for about five years. It’s a house for women and children experiencing homelessness. We eat meals together every day and share the same house – an expression of solidarity that JVC also seeks. We also provide hot showers to people on the streets and a food distribution. Casa de Clara is involved not only in work, but also prayer twice a day. As we take care of people’s immediate needs, we’re also asking questions about justice with one another. Our activism has focused much on climate change and war, as the meta picture that impacts the day-to-day lives of the women we live with.
At the Catholic Worker in San Jose, we collectively take simple living to another level. Like the JVs we don’t make any money. There is something really liberating about not making money – our concerns are no longer about that, we get to focus on what’s important. There are no bosses to tell us what to do with our time. We have the liberty to be able to respond to the needs of the community. I am free in a way that I never was when I had an employer. Through our work, we are able to place body and spirit where we as a community are feeling called.