My partner and I fell in love fourteen years ago in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That year, the JVC East Midyear Retreat was held just outside the infamous home of “The Office.” At the end of the retreat, Paul and I went back to our communities in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, and we promised to stay in touch. Several years later, Paul asked me to marry him in Washington D.C.
We married in 2012, surrounded by friends and family and many former Jesuit Volunteers. Our JVC community members said yes to our invitation to bring up the gifts at our wedding; they were the perfect people to present gifts at our wedding after sharing their own gifts in our communities.
The four values of JVC, simple living, social justice, community, and spirituality have been infused in our relationship and marriage, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. We are at our best when we are surrounded and supported by community; the best and worst moments of our relationship have been made better when shared with the people we love. We sought out a spiritual community in each of the places we lived together, and we’ve found a home in several mission-focused parishes in Portland, Milwaukee, and now St. Louis. The value of simple living presents in our purchases, our home, our belongings, and our schedules. We spend more than we did as Jesuit Volunteers, but our larger incomes give us more freedom to make sustainable, environmentally friendly purchases, and we attempt to raise our kids to value relationships over material things. Finally, the value of social justice has shaped our choices around where we choose to live, where we send our kids to school, the kinds of professions we’ve pursued, and even the kinds of businesses we support. In short, since being in JVC, the values inform almost all the choices we’ve made both individually and as a couple.
Falling in love with a fellow Jesuit Volunteer has been one of the best gifts of my life. I have a loving partner to share a beautiful life with, someone who helps me stay true to my sometimes counter-cultural values. I’m forever grateful to JVC East (and Scranton) for bringing us together.
Mary and Paul served in Scranton and Hartford, respectively, in 2007-'08. They recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary.