For Mary Franz, being a JV in Boise this past year was “all at once, the bravest and most frightening thing I had done so far in my life.” She shared these words at the very start of her second year with JVC Northwest during the Missioning Mass, the blessing and send off for all JVs at the culmination of Orientation this past month. This was part of a larger reflection Mary (Boise, ID ’16-17, Yakima, WA ’17-18) shared on vulnerability, strength, and brokenness as holy elements of the Jesuit Volunteer experience. An excerpt of Mary’s remarks are below.
“When I was sitting where you are now, one year ago today, not only was I overwhelmed and exhausted, I was terrified. I was afraid for the uncertainty I was entering into, and for the daunting task of taking on the work of a JV—you all are so brave and I hope you recognize that. For me, sitting there and being sent off to be a force of resistance in a broken and fearful world was, all at once, the bravest and most frightening thing I had done so far in my life. Just like you are now, I was risking the comfort and safety of the space I inhabited and the relationships I formed before getting on a plane to Portland, Ore.. My sense of peace and certitude for who I was and what I thought my life would be was hesitantly put on the line and told it was going to be “ruined”. The risk of saying “yes” to a year living with strangers, doing work I’ve never done, and being among vulnerable and oppressed communities really did scare me.
But I didn’t want the discomfort of my own fear to stand in the way of the thing I desperately wanted from a year of service—a revolution in myself and in the world. I had no sense of how to arrive at that revolution, only that I had reluctantly but strategically placed myself in the line of struggle, on a path of challenge and adversity. I left Orientation last year head down, fists clenched, unknowingly unprepared to witness vulnerability and suffering in the lives I would encounter and most unsuspectingly, vulnerability in myself.”