The JVC Covenant – all of it

JVC Covenant

We invite you to serve as a Jesuit Volunteer. By accepting this assignment, you agree to live and work as a JV for the next two years.  We stress that this is a significant commitment, for we describe JVC as a life-changing service and formation experience, an experience that leaves one “ruined for life.” As a faith-based cross-cultural program, volunteers are expected to leave behind the dominant US preferences for personal status, autonomy, comfort, and acquisition; while increasingly committing to the Gospel’s preferential option for the poor. We understand the JVC program as lived options expressed in the four JVC components.

Commitment to this covenant signifies that not only has the JVC office accepted you, but that you accept and fully desire JVC. It is not a program for everybody. Please let the JVC staff know if you need clarification on points contained in this covenant or if you disagree with any of the following.

In order to more fully understand what is entailed in the commitment you will be undertaking, PLEASE READ the JVC handbook CAREFULLY. It describes the JVC values and how we see their lived expression. Please consider whether you can enter this covenant enthusiastically.

I have discerned and prayerfully commit to the following:

Building Community:
I will share fully in communal living with my companion JVs and accept responsibility for maintaining a clean, safe and hospitable environment in the home where we live;

I will enter fully into the community meeting times (minimally, 1 hour/week) and regular community activities such as sharing meals together (minimally 4 times/week);

I will be honest with my community members and willing to share my life with them. I realize that the community’s common good will sometimes require individual sacrifice and compromise.

I will be aware of how significant relationships affect the community as a whole and therefore will aim to be intentional, inclusive and sensitive to the common good if I find myself discerning this type of relationship.

Witnessing Faith:
I will pray and share my spiritual insights with my community each week in the context of spirituality nights (minimally, 1 hour/week);

I will dedicate some time each day for prayer and personal reflection growing in my relationship with God and others. I will discern how God is calling me to service and will strive to respond to that call during and even beyond my time as a JV.

I will attend Sunday Mass appreciating that it will probably be a different spiritual experience than I am familiar with. I also understand that it is often a cultural expectation of the local church community who has invited the presence of JVs and also an opportunity to more fully immerse with the people whom we are trying to serve.

Doing Justice:
I enter JVC realizing, as the Second Vatican Council affirmed, that the proclamation of faith and work for justice are inseparable and equally integral to the Christian mission.

I will exercise social analysis and critical reflection on my experiences to better understand the structures that foster and perpetuate powerlessness and poverty. I will examine my own personal history to see how I have benefited or suffered from these same structures.

I will strive to continually examine my own behaviors and ways in which I relate to others, recognizing how in some ways, I could unintentionally work against my desire to do justice.

I realize that as a guest in my host country, it is not my role to publicly denounce local leadership. While my work as a JV may not be social/political advocacy, I will strive for friendships and solidarity with the poor. I do this not for their benefit, but for mine, for the friends of Jesus are found among the poor.

I realize that before all else, the promotion of justice requires my own continuing personal conversion. This process will scrutinize the cultural influences and values which have shaped me — for I come from a North American culture which often promotes the individual and where immediate gratification and accumulation have become standards of success.

Living Simply:
I will strive with my community members to live simply in all aspects of my life, exploring the meaning of this value and ways to challenge each other to simplify even further.  Minimally I will live within our JVC budget for all routine living expenses understanding that for special needs, I may have to provide my own financial resources (e.g. contact lens materials, special prescription medication);

I will stay within my host country/region for the next two years as an important real and symbolic way of entering into this place and accompanying people;

I will approach vacation time with the norms of a simple lifestyle — seeking guidance from the Jesuit support person and the JVC office.  I will:
a.    not let visits from family and friends interfere with this norm, after all, it is I (not them) who chose to enter into this covenant;
b.    I will prayerfully discern and discuss with my JV community and local support person any leisurely travel.  When traveling I will recognize that I am exercising my privilege and therefore will maintain simplicity, rather than participating in tourist opportunities that remain out of reach for the majority of local people.

I will participate fully in the scheduled JVC retreats and the year-end Re-Orientation/Dis-Orientation (Re-O/Dis-O) program;

I will, upon my arrival, meet with the local JVC support person to work out the mutual relationship that can be expected between the JVs and the local support community. I understand that:
a.    our goal is to support the Jesuit presence and/or the diocesan efforts and to work in the spirit of cooperation and friendship;
b.    the local support community want and appreciate JVs but their primary focus is their local ministry;
c.    hospitality and help from the local support community should be recognized as a kindness which we reciprocate as a JV community;
d.    in cases of serious and urgent need JVs can expect the support of the local support community as well as the JVC office;
e.    financial compensation and JV living expenses are provided by funds from the work site and the JVC office.

I will commit to honestly trying to live consistent with the behavioral norms described in the handbook, specifically chapter VI concerning “Responsibilities of the Volunteer” in my personal life and by supporting and challenging other JVs in my community to live in accord with these expectations concerning:
a.    significant relationships
b.    alcohol, drugs, addictive behaviors
c.    significant relationships
d.    use of free time
e.    my connections to “home”

During any time when there is hiatus from my primary placement, I will seek a secondary placement approved by the JVC office, giving priority first to any specific need as designated by the Jesuit superior or local support person; and next to use this time to further connect with the host culture and to become more proficient with the local language.  Secondary placements vary by country.

I freely enter this cross-cultural experience with a desire to appreciate a culture other than my own. I will use this principle (and the four components) to guide my discernment about travel; the time I spend in correspondence with friends, family (especially via email); the time I spend connecting to U.S. culture via the internet and mass media; and when I consider whether to enjoy luxuries frequently extended to ex-patriots but not accessible to most local people.

With a desire to be fully immersed in this experience and appreciating the commitments with my various communities and responsibilities, I will refrain from having friends or family visit during my entire first year as a volunteer. Additionally, I will stay for the entire two years without going home, unless a situation of personal health or trauma arises, in which case I will consult with the In-Country Coordinator and JVC staff to discern appropriate measures.

I freely commit myself to JVC, its values, and the people I will live this experience alongside.  The lifestyle described in this covenant resonates with how I desire to live my life for the next two years.  Therefore, I am willingly entering into this covenant and will make a continual effort to integrate its essence into my life as a JV.