Personal and Spiritual Growth

John Riedel Blog 1 at his desk at cathedral services

My FrancisCorps journey began early this year. I entered my last semester of college with the thought that I wanted to get a job as a forensic chemist or toxicologist. I had my list of priorities, and that career path satisfied most of them; I was looking for a stable career field with jobs near Virginia that I could enter into straight out of college. I had my plans laid out in January, and I shared them with my sister. I don’t quite remember what she thought of my plans, but she highly recommended I consider doing a year of volunteer service like she had done with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I told her I’d take a look at volunteer opportunities, but in my mind, I didn’t want to give up the plans I already had. A month or so later, I spoke with one of my brothers over the phone, and he also recommended I look into volunteer options. His reasoning was that I may have many years ahead of me to devote to a career and I could surely spare one for volunteer service, and that volunteering with a Catholic community would enable me to develop in my ownership of the Faith, my interpersonal skills, and self-confidence. I was fired up by that phone call and started looking for programs online at Catholic Volunteer Network. However, as I looked through the vast array of programs, I didn’t know where to begin. My prideful side didn’t see any programs that had chemistry in them (big surprise), so I began to think, am I wasting this year by spending it in volunteer service? I flaked and spent a few weeks applying for forensic chemistry jobs instead, but then guilt and FOMO (fear of missing out) set in. Was that God speaking to me? I like to think so. Fast forward a few months, and I had my interview with FrancisCorps. The program caught my eye because a) it was near the top of the alphabetical list of programs on CVN, b) there’s a pilgrimage to Italy, and c) I was running out of time and needed to apply to programs. Beyond those stellar reasons for applying were more significant reasons, namely the strong focus on community and faith formation. Service site placement did not play a large role in my decision to apply; after I realized that I wasn’t going to be doing chemistry this year, I was open to most anything. I got accepted into FrancisCorps, chose my service site soon after, and now here I am! I’m humbled to be where I am with the people I’m with. God has placed me with people in my work and my community who consistently practice Gospel living, much more than I ever have. What excites me most about the FrancisCorps experience is the opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. I come not as a perfect person, but then again, who is? We all have our talents and weaknesses; the challenge is to love and support others more perfectly.

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