“When Christine Jones (’09C) first came to St. John’s University as a wide-eyed freshman from Oregon, she had never heard of the Vincentian Charism. Six years later, it has come to define her life in an incredible way.” Thus begins an article on the St. John’s University website tracing that journey from university campus, the missions of Ethiopia and Kenya down to today and her work with the Daughters of Charity in San Francisco. (And, by the way ,she writes on her blog, A Servant’s Song, “I met the man of my dreams while doing the things I love. Now we get to do them together : )”
Source: St. John’s Alumni Digest November 28, 2011
Six years later, it has come to define her life in an incredible way.
This young alumna currently works in San Francisco for the Daughters of Charity – a premier Vincentian organization – helping other lay people follow their faith and learn the Charism. Jones, who has always valued her spirituality, views this job as a dream come true.
“My faith has always been important to me, but I didn’t know a thing about the Vincentian values until I came to St. John’s,” she said. “It really sent my life in a different direction, because it allowed me to see the Church through a lens of serving the needs of the poor. That really focused my faith.”
Jones’s dedication to the Vincentian mission and her close involvement with the Daughters of Charity has even taken her beyond American borders. Most notably, she traveled to Africa on two separate occasions with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries, experiences that strengthened her faith immeasurably.
“I was an undergraduate when I first went to Africa, a trip that took me to Ethiopia to teach English to children,” Jones explained. “That experience completely changed the way I view the poor because it put a face to the name. Instead of thinking about poverty in abstract terms, like ‘the homeless of New York,’ or something like that, these were people I was teaching and working with closely. It truly changed my perspective on what it means to help people.”
This past August, Jones decided to embark on a second trip to Africa, traveling with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries to Kenya and serving in a coordinator position. In addition to teaching, she helped to plan wealth of other activities for the Kenyan children designed to instruct them in sports, music, arts and drama.
The opportunity to go back to Africa left a lasting impression on Jones.
“It was tugging at my heartstrings,” she explained. “I wanted to give back not only to those in Africa, but to the program as well. It was certainly a challenge to go back as a leader, but it was very much worth it.”
During her trips to Africa, Jones was taken aback by how culturally different it is from America. Most notably, she was shocked by the lack of diversity and the antiquated amenities. But these local hardships only added to the impact the trips had on her.
“When I came back from Kenya, my perspective changed in much more subtle ways than it had from my first trip to Ethiopia,” she said. “What I came back with, for better or worse, was more questions. I had a stronger desire to really start looking at what needs to be changed, what pieces need to be set in place, to solve some of these major problems. “
Jones lives in the Bay Area with her husband and enjoys working for the Daughters of Charity. Faith remains an essential part of her life, and she looks back fondly on her time at St. John’s.
“The Vincentian values were not even on my radar back when I was a kid in Oregon,” she recalled. “But because of the experiences I had at St. John’s and the wonderful people I met there, the Charism has become an essential part of my life.”
She added, “When people ask me how I would describe myself, I always tell them, ‘I’m a Vincentian,’ and that’s something I’m very proud to say.”
Read more about Jones’s trip to Kenya on her blog.
Tags: Daughters of Charity, Ethiopia, Kenya, St. John's University, Vincentian Lay Missionaries USA