Challenge Revisited: Community Communication

Before JVC began, I wrote about the challenges associated with living in a community (and an intentional community at that) with five or six people that I had never met. I wrote about the importance of communication and being able to talk about problems, expectations, and challenges.

JVC Baltimore Arrupe House 09-10

JVC Baltimore Arrupe House '09-'10

Now, nearly two months into our year in Baltimore together, our community of six is well on its way to a successful year. We were able to hash out our expectations, some ground rules, and communication guidelines at the very beginning and haven’t looked back since (in a good way of course). We have a weekly meeting to plan meals, social events, and community and spirituality nights; we have a chore wheel; and we continually strive to keep open lines of communication. So far, we haven’t had any major problems and we don’t expect to.

Last weekend, we traveled to Upper Marlboro, Maryland to meet with JVC East’s other southern cities for a retreat that focused on community. We met one-on-one in “Dyads” to go over each relationship’s progress. We talked about what’s been going well, what’s been a challenge, and where we saw the relationships going.

Afterward, we met as a group to talk about our community as a whole. We talked about what’s been going well, what we would like to change, and set some new goals. We decided to set a weekly “Simple Living Challenge” (e.g. only buying food from the local farmer’s market or cutting out TV for the week), focus more on the JVC value of spirituality, and be more present to each other on a regular basis. Both the Dyads and the group meetings were really important, meaningful conversations and, even though things have gone really well so far and it’s still very early in our year, they were a great way to check-in with everyone to talk about our mission as community members.

Earlier in the retreat, much to my surprise, Emily Rauer (now Mrs. Emily Rauer-Davis), a former teacher at my high school, St. John’s High School, and the current Assistant Director of Loyola University’s Campus Ministry, spoke to the group with her husband about their experiences with JVC. It was a blast from the past to bump into Emily, but it sure was good to see her and learn that she lives in Baltimore, too.

During the weekend, we also met with other JV’s working in similar jobs, called Apostolate Groups. My group was comprised of three other JV’s who also taught in some way. We discussed our experiences at our placements, what works with students and what doesn’t, where we see God at work every day, and the challenges that we face. We also were able to exchange some rather humorous stories about our work. It’s good to know that there are other people (other than Kelly at Cristo Rey with me of course) with similar experiences!

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As for school and teaching, things are going swimmingly. I graded and returned my first assignment, passed in interim grades, and have continued helping with freshmen algebra tutoring and junior SAT Prep class. In Writing Lab, the sophomores began work on their narrative essays for English class. It’s been fun to help the students write them and see them formulate ideas. I’m really looking forward to reading some of them as their due date gets closer.

Well, that’s all for now. I liked posting the Dorothy Day excerpt last week and I think I’ll try to include some sort of weekly reading or story to give you an idea of what I’m thinking about and reflecting on.

Oh, also, last week, I made Lentil Burgers all by myself! It was a big step for me and I even added in some extra seasoning. Mum, you’ve taught me well! They were so good that I made them again last night. Well, that and we had a ton of extra lentils…

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2 Responses to Challenge Revisited: Community Communication

  1. Katie says:

    That sounds awesome, Tom!

    It reminds me of my Catholic school days…I had a teacher who I think did JVC and she used to give us extra credit for bringing in canned food and toilet paper…for her house. haha

    I’m glad to hear things are going so well!!

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