The community library is ubiquitous to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps house. The community to which I belong—Casa Carlo Carretto in Albuquerque, New Mexico—is no exception. Its shelves draw together the five JVs who live here. Book read by book read, each of us has begun to build an impression of the whole library as its own distinct entity, as a collection of individual works that convey a single message.
I write this post after returning from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps’ Re-Orientation mid-year retreat, where Casa Carlo joined more than fifty other volunteers from across the western United States to analyze, share, and pray about our experiences in the program so far. It was thrilling to spend time with friends we hadn’t seen since August, but I was most moved to recognize the character of my own community: just as many volumes make up one library at our house, we as individuals each contribute to a singular mode of being intentionally together. In our interactions with other communities, I grew to know and love my own as quietly as our community had formed over the previous Fall.
Our community can’t be taken for granted. We five are from different places, and each attended different colleges; we work across three unique apostolates (immigration, education, and transitional housing); our personalities are varied and not always cooperative. It’s despite these differences that we’re a community. It has been our willingness to be consistently present with and to and for each other which has enabled us to bloom as we have. It has been the habitual offering of each of our gifts—Anna’s prudence, Carlos’ leadership, Grace’s attentiveness, Kirsten’s resourcefulness—which shines so brightly whenever we’re together.
After six months of shared practice in accompanying the marginalized, properly ordering our habits of consumption, and deepening our awareness of the presence of God in all things, my community has become a fellowship potent in the fight for justice and a hopeful model for living in relationship with others. More than anything I’ve accomplished as a Jesuit Volunteer, I’m proud of what my community has become.
Colin Crawford has proudly spent his entire life in South Bend, Indiana, where he majored in history at Holy Cross College. He loves language, backpacking, and Indian food. As a Jesuit Volunteer, he will serve as a shelter assistant at HopeWorks in Albuquerque, New Mexico.