Jesuit Volunteer Corps
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) is an organization of lay volunteers who dedicate one year or more to voluntary community service working with people in need—the homeless, abused women and children, immigrants and refugees, the mentally ill, people with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses, the elderly, children, and other marginalized groups. More recently, Jesuit Volunteers have worked for environmental education and preservation. Through retreats, local formation teams, and community living, volunteers are immersed in the "four values" of JVC: spirituality, community, simple living, and social justice. JVC incorporates Catholic teachings and spirituality into their programs, but is open to volunteers of all faiths.
Approximately 150 college graduates enroll in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as new volunteers each year, as of 2012.
The first Jesuit Volunteer project began in 1956, when the Jesuits of the Oregon Province of the Jesuit and the Sisters of Saint Ann formed a partnership to open the Copper Valley school, a boarding school for Native Alaskan children. The small nucleus expanded through the sponsorship of the Province to become the Jesuit Volunteer Corp.
The Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement was founded and named by Jack Morris, S.J.. Morris had participated in the initial Copper Valley School project. In 1982 and 1983, Father Morris would organize a 6,500 walk, called the Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage, from Washington state to Bethlehem to draw attention to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. New recruits into the Jesuit Volunteer Corps are still given a presentation on Morris' Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage, as part of their initial training.
The initial Northwest JVC inspired other chapters across the country that regional organizations began to form across the country: JVC East and JVC Midwest in 1975, JVC Southwest in 1977, JVC South in 1980, and JV International in 1987. Since 1956, more than 12,000 people have served as Jesuit Volunteers. There are approximately 400 Jesuit Volunteers in any given year, with 150 new volunteers enrolling in the JVC each year.
In 2009, five of the six Jesuit Volunteer Corps organizations merged to form JVC to share resources for one common mission and strengthen the organization as a whole. After completing a month-long Ignatian discernment process and consulting with many current and former Jesuit Volunteers, JVC Northwest made the decision to remain an independent region addressing rural, urban and environmental needs in the Northwestern U.S.
Today there are two Jesuit volunteer corps organizations in the U.S., united by a shared history and foundational values.
JVC serves others across four continents and can be found in inner city neighborhoods like Brooklyn, New York, a rural reservation in South Dakota, and about 40 other sites throughout the U.S. They also serve in countries, often alongside Jesuits, in South America, Oceania, and Africa.
- Attorney Hunter Biden, son of Vice President Joseph R. Biden
- Attorney Abigail Smith Hurson
- U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr.. He served as a Jesuit volunteer at the Gesu School in North Philadelphia after graduating from the College of the Holy Cross
- King County, Washington Councilperson Bob Ferguson
- Colorado Supreme Court Justice Monica Marquez
- Vestal, Shawn (2012-08-31). "A pilgrimage, and a life, pursuing peace". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- "Founder of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps movement dies". Catholic Sentinel. 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-10-11.