JVC is proud to be able to highlight the experiences of family and friends who have supported and continue to support Jesuit Volunteers. If you would like to contribute your testimonial, contact Katie Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some guidelines and topics to consider:
- Please keep your writing within 500 words.
- Remember, your readers may not have any experience with JVC, so avoid acronymns or jargon that could be unfamiliar.
- What do you perceive as the value of JVC for your JV?
- What are you learning, or have you learned, through your JV's particpation in JVC?
- Did you have any initial concerns about this program that have since been proven unmerited?
- If your JV is a long-time Former Jesuit Volunteer, how has he or she stayed engaged in the values of the program?
- Is there any advice you would offer the family or friends of an incoming JV?
- If you are an FJV, what does it mean to you to have your child partici the same program?
A Family Legacy
My journey with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps began almost 30 years ago when my daughter Mary announced that upon graduation from Holy Cross, she would hold off on law school until she completed a year with JVC in Visalia, California. It was a wonderful experience for Mary, and for our entire family. That's without even considering that she met her future husband, Tom, when he was a JV in Sacramento. Mary is now an attorney. She and Tim live in California with their family.
Four years later, my daughter Judy graduated from the University of Scranton and decided she would also travel to California, join JVC, and work in East Palo Alto. Another great JVC experience! Judy and her family now live in Atlanta, Georgia.
The following year, while I was working for IBM in Tokyo, my daughter Paula surprised the family. She announced that after graduation from Lafayette College, instead of working for IBM, as she'd done the prior summer, or pursuing an MBA, she would join JVC and work in San Francisco. After her West-Coast assignment, Paula signed on for a JVC year in Baltimore. Following the path that many JVs take, she joined the agency where she volunteered. Subsequently, Paula graduated from Weston Jesuit with her master's in divinity. She spent the last 14 years as a campus minister at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she and her family live.
What has the Fitzgerald family learned from these JVC experiences? As proud parents of FJVs, my wife and I both recognize how JVC's commitment to simple living has not only helped to continue the growth experience of college, but also has offered great preparation for the years ahead. Relationships with housemates were created that still thrive many years later. Most importantly, the values nutured in JVC are even stronger today.
My daughters' experiences even rubbed off on Dad. For the past dozen years, I have evolved into "an unofficial JV support person." I join in meeting the new JVs when they arrive at the airport and drive them to orientation. After they settle in, I connect with them outside of their work by introducing them to our community. This may mean including them in a meal at juvenile hall, a conference to hear Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J. [from Homeboy Industries], or see a show like the recent production about a Jesuit who helped refugees after the Vietnam conflict. I also enjoy bringing the JVs to our parishes, so our parishioners can hear about their work. Finally, it's true that I am known for filling the minds of our JVs with the latest spirituality and discernment books.
I am a big fan of JVC. I can't imagine a better way to cap off four years of college than to move to the margins of society, strengthening and developing one's core values, and meeting brothers and sisters in need. Not only are the young women and men who volunteer affected, but their entire families can also be "ruined for life."
-- Stan Fitzgerald
Be Ready to be Surprised
The JVC year can simply be a worthwhile time before moving on to other pursuits--or it can be a life-altering experience.
Your daughter or son will be challenged to the very core, whether it is learning to adapt to a not very pretty neighborhood, assuming job responsibilities for which there has been little preparation, exploring (maybe for the first time) a relationship with God, living with limited means, and, perhaps the most challenging of all, forming a community with the other Jesuit Volunteers. That's asking a lot, but JVC provides a valuable and truly unique opportunity to enter the very real world with a deep felt commitment to live the Gospel command of loving our neighbor as yourself.
As a Former Jesuit Volunteer, I was thrilled when Eileen committed to working with a homeless agency in Phoenix. I was confident that she would embrace all of the challenges faced by a JV and am happy to report that she has emerged enriched in every respect--her commitment to simple living and social justice, as well as her growing sense of spirituality and what it means to be, in the Jesuit manner, a young woman for others.
Some recommendations from one who has experienced JVC as both a JV and a parent: Beware of the cell phone. Too much communication with family and friends may leave too little time to build a community with the other JVs.
When I was Jesuit Volunteer, we had one telephone per house and long distance calls were expensive. The 24/7 accessibility provided by a cell phone (which is generally paid for by the parents) makes it too easy to retreat from and avoid confronting current challenges. Give her some space to grow, mature, reach out to her community members for support, and learn about herself.
Also, be ready to be surprised, maybe even shocked. Following her silent retreat, Eileen changed the career course she had thought she would pursue. Her prayer and discernment led her in a different direction and she is currently in a master's program eagerly following her new dream. We are delighted.
-- Steve Quigley (Wilmington '75)