I spent a week in El Salvador in the Spring of my senior year at Xavier University, and immediately after returning, I started my applications to many year of service programs, including the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I was elated to finally get to go to IFTJ, because I had never been able to go during undergrad. Like most grounding experiences, the teach-in came at exactly the right time for me. The weekend reminded me of my time in El Salvador, yes, but more so it reminded me of the deep love the Ignatian community of Justice exudes, and why I applied to JVC. Sister Peggy O’Neill, the Founder of Centro Arte Para la Paz, was the Keynote speaker on Saturday night, and while I am a journaling person by nature, I found myself trying to write as quickly as I could each of the things she was saying.
One question, albeit an open ended one, from Sister Peggy shook me to my core. “Are we ready to admit that we have trespassed on the fullness of God?” In the way that, “we come from love and we are moving toward an ever more inclusive love.”
And furthermore, have we forgotten the ways in which we are interconnected “by an endless ocean of Agape love?” The interconnectedness and relationships demanded in the work of justice, and therefore in the work of God, are what make the love come alive within each of us. Sister Peggy was a remarkable reminder of that.
She also gave us the charge to “honestly probe our deepest centers,” because we “cannot google to find what is in your heart.” At times, I find myself too often forgetting to look within, both at my relationship with my faith and my relationship with myself. While IFTJ taught me endless lessons, brought me closer to my fellow JV’s, allowed me space to rekindle old friendships, and gave me hope—it also reminded me of the importance of knowing why you do the things you do. My JVC experience is a reminder of the fire that has been lit within our souls to fight for a better world.
Brianna Ledsome was born and raised in Youngstown, OH, and was privileged to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH for undergrad. She received an Honors Bachelor of the Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and The Public, and Political Science. In her free time, she loves to read, hike, and experience new music. She will be serving this year in Washington DC at Georgetown University