CJ and Marc, two Fordham alumni and Former Jesuit Volunteers reflect on their JV experience, and the moments they had in college that lead to completing their applications. CJ speaks with Marc in this reflective interview about what impacted their discernment process to commit to a year or more of service as a JV! Read more about their transformative JV experience below.
By Connie Cacae
So at Fordham you were a retreat leader with Campus Ministry, and I actually owe part of my JV experience to you because of that! You helped lead my first retreat which motivated me to look into post-grad service – so thanks! From your time as a retreat leader and being involved with Campus Ministry at Fordham, what did you learn that helped prepare you for your JV year?
Wow CJ I did not know that, thanks for sharing that with me! One of the big things that Fordham Campus Ministry taught me that set me up well for JVC was how to reflect upon and share my experiences. Especially through the lens of personal spirituality. I found this extremely helpful when it came to articulating myself during community and spirituality nights where we were often asked to think intentionally about how our work, and our placements were impacting the ways we thought and lived over the year.
I would say the strong relationships I formed with my students came from moments where I just sat and listened to what problems they were encountering in their school and home lives.
That’s great; its so important to be willing to enter into the chaos of the experience and it seems like you were very present for that. I think anyone who saw your pictures from throughout the year could see how much your students connected with you and looked up to you. What did you learn from living and working in the community you served in?
A great and challenging question CJ! So my placement was at Santa Cruz Catholic School, a pre K-8th grade school in Tucson, as their Campus Minister. I worked with the whole school on a few projects, but I spent most of my time working with the middle school students (6th-8th). Working in a school definitely presents some big challenges, but some even greater joys. And one of those joys was learning just how important it is to just be a listening ear for somebody. I would say the strong relationships I formed with my students came from moments where I just sat and listened to what problems they were encountering in their school and home lives.
So you’re currently pursuing a Masters degree at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, how did JVC prepare and guide you for this next step? Is this the path you saw yourself taking a few years ago?
Definitely not! The idea of pursuing a career as a Campus Minister had not even occurred to me until the last few weeks of senior year, which made the summer before JVC not at all stressful. An important part of my own spirituality is the phrase “contemplation in action“, which comes from the spirituality of St. Ignatius as well. The phrase pretty simply means: to take time to reflect on your experiences while you’re in the midst of doing them. JVC granted me the opportunity to work in the field that I was intending to enter. So I spent a lot of the year as a “contemplative in action” trying to discern whether working as a Campus Minister was the correct career choice to pursue. Community and spirituality nights greatly aided this process by providing me with an intentional space to pray and reflect upon that desire. Through reflection and prayer, I came to the decision that this was the path I was called towards.
I continue to be surprised and impressed by how many people let their JV year completely re-direct them and how enthusiastically they embrace these different calls to service. Good for you! Any ideas right now about where you see yourself after this step?
I hope to work as a Campus Minister on the college level after I graduate from Boston College. Before JVC, I was pretty intent on just looking for positions in retreat ministry, but my discernment in JVC helped me become open to more possibilities. For example, I would also love to lead service-immersion trips where I can help create opportunities for college or high school students to start engaging with issues of justice.
I think that would be a perfect fit for you! I’m sure you’ll be great where ever you find yourself. Thanks, Marc. Go Rams!
Of course CJ! Go Rams!
CJ served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Los Angeles, California in 2015. She holds a BS from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business where she studied Marketing, Communications, and Sustainable Business. She currently lives in New York and works in Operations at the Helmsley Charitable Trust.