By Jes Stevens
It’s been four years since I was a Loretto Volunteer. Four years! Some days it feels like my time working in Washington, D.C., as a Volunteer was so long ago. And other days, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was living in intentional community in Junia House. Over these four years I’ve had some major life changes. I moved back to St. Louis, worked a job that I knew wasn’t going to be a career, started and completed graduate school, and am now working a full-time job that I love. All these developments have been transformational shifts from what came before. And as you can imagine, outside of these career moves a lot of other things have happened in my personal life over the past four years, too.
While technology has helped me to stay in contact with my Loretto Volunteer community, the one thing that I’ve always looked forward to has been the Labor Day retreat. Each year over Labor Day weekend, young adults, former Loretto Volunteers and friends of Loretto make their way down to spend two (sometimes three) days at the Motherhouse. This retreat has been there for me when things were great. It’s also been there when things weren’t. Those times, when everything else seemed difficult, or when nothing seemed like it was going to work out, Loretto always has been there.
The role that Loretto has played and the relationships I formed during my year as a Volunteer and the years after are a constant source of safety and permanence, even when most things are not. I believe this to be because Loretto has a special way of calling in incredible humans committed to working for justice and acting for peace. Loretto draws people with empathetic and compassionate spirits. The Community and all it stands for also seems to attract unique individuals with incredible senses of humor and a lot of spunk.
It is because of these incredible humans and our connection with and through Loretto that I’ve been able to make it through the trying times of my life so far. But this Community is also present for celebrating life’s joys with me, too. I am grateful for it all.
This journey of life and its wildly unexpected turns are made easier by the community connected to Loretto that I’ve formed over these past four years. The homecoming retreat is another incredible opportunity to reconnect with and recommit to myself and to the values that I felt so called to live out during my year as a Loretto Volunteer.