I began to see an alternative faith experience unfold at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA, with a powerful epiphany while on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius during my senior year, which caused me to start seeing connections that I could not ignore. Seeing my life through Jesus’ eyes is a Catholic cliché yes, but it is hard to describe my experience in any other way. I began to see how privileged I am, how nothing belongs to me, how I don’t deserve anything more than someone else.
My visit with Agape came directly after my year long experience with Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Montana at the Crow Indian Reservation in Mount Xavier. At Mount Xavier, I realized that my education, wealth, gender privilege, race privilege, require me to use these unwarranted privileges and to give back to this world everything I have been given.
I came to Agape, hoping to find beyond a year of service, a community that intentionally lives the Gospel message– a lifestyle rather than an isolated story lived for a short time. I believe that this happens by living a Christ-like life through sustainable farming and economic practices; through speaking out against social and environmental injustices; through taking in the homeless, educating peers and future generations and finding a community which can support these grand endeavors.
JVC felt like a story, a dream, something not tangible for a lifestyle. Living in Agape assured me that intentional community can be for life. Agape is home for you all like any property with a house is home for so many Americans. However, the difference is Agape considers itself a “community.”
The Agape Community does not lock its doors. Instead it invites others (and I use “other” intentionally because it is not a qualification to be like-minded) into community to eat work, sing, pray and create dialogue with each other. Without community, without being reminded just how intrinsically connected we are, we cannot bear any fruit. Life begins with Agape.
The true Agape openness and charity is rewarded with so much love. In a world where too many people spend too much time worrying about themselves, their security, their philanthropic legacy or fiscal accomplishments, Agape lives an alternative lifestyle dedicated “for and with others,” a quote taken from The College of Holy Cross’s Mission Statement, a mission derived from the Gospel message. In a world obsessed with seeking self-fulfillment and happiness, it’s profoundly ironic that the answer is living “for and with others.”
Connor who spent a week with us this summer, is now full time at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry