by Jack Giannetti, Cap Corps DC 2021-22
The story of my Cap Corps year of service is rather unique in comparison with the stories of others that I’ve heard in that I didn’t seek out Cap Corps nor was I looking to do a year of service. The story begins in the spring of 2020. I was studying math at the University of Florida, but I didn’t really have any interest in pursuing a career in math or really in anything else that I could think of. Feeling rather confused and unsure what to do after college, I asked Jesus in prayer essentially to tell me what I should do. He very quickly responded both in prayer and through those around me at the time that I should “teach.” Now, I was fairly shocked and confused by this response because I had never considered or even thought about pursuing a career in teaching. However, since I had asked Him and He had clearly answered me, I began to sit with the answer and soon found peace in it and a growing desire to pursue that course.
Fast forwarding about a year, God led me—through various miraculous events—to discern with the Capuchin Franciscans in the same province with which this program is affiliated. I found that I was growing in a deep love for the Franciscan charism and appreciation for their way of life, which left me conflicted since our Lord told me very clearly in prayer, “teach,” and that word had not yet been fulfilled. Thus I told the friars that for the time being I would not be applying to the order. Well, while in the airport on the way home from one of their discernment retreats, I got a call from the Vocation Director referring me to Cap Corps. Not knowing anything about it, I spoke to the director, who informed me that not only is the program deeply connected with the friars, allowing me to further my discernment with them, but that they have many ministry placements in education. She then went on to describe to me one such placement, Sacred Heart School, a bilingual school (I studied Spanish through high school and college) belonging to a Capuchin parish in Washington, DC. I couldn’t believe it. And I dare say I almost believe it even less now, as I consider how much God has blessed me in my placement at Sacred Heart in ways that I could never have imagined and certainly could not have orchestrated on my own.
I should begin describing my Cap Corps year by saying that it was not all great, per se. For the first half of the year, there were many days where I didn’t have much to do at my placement. At times I genuinely wondered why I was there and felt a little useless. I was comforted by the knowledge that God had led me there and I was exactly where I needed to be. I started to use all the extra time that I had to pray and I offered up all the little responsibilities I was given, remembering that there is great value in doing little things with great love, as St. Thérèse of Lisieux says. Even though I actually began to feel comfort in the slow pace of things, I prayed that God would give me something more to do, something for which I could apply myself and use the gifts God has given me. Well, He certainly heard my prayer as halfway through the year a teacher unexpectedly left and I was asked to fill in as the new 4th grade teacher. I was actually so thrown off and unconfident in my ability to take on the role that I actually said “No” when I was first asked. However, as there was no one else, I eventually agreed to take the position, and I can’t believe that I had originally been so reluctant because my time as a 4th grade teacher at Sacred Heart School was one of the best experiences of my life.
What I “got out of” Cap Corps, like any other program, or really anything in life so I’ve discovered, has largely been a reflection of my willingness—in any given aspect—to put myself into it. That was a big thing I learned this year. For example, Cap Corps says they offer formation, and they do; what I didn’t realize for some time was that that formation is something you have to willingly enter into. It’s an active formation, not a passive one. Perhaps a nice way to say it is that Cap Corps offers abundant resources for one’s own development, whatever that may be. Cap Corps offers community, and it may be a wonderful, beautiful community in which everyone is striving to build each other up and love one another and help each other grow in virtue, but the community doesn’t come gift-wrapped like that on day one . . . it has to be built. Same for spiritual formation and prayer, relationships with the friars, growth in simplicity, a balanced work life, whatever it may be. I learned that if I was truly where God was calling me to be, and I lived fully in the present, putting myself into each present thing, that God would make each of those things bear fruit. And by God they did. I learned so much about myself and where I needed to grow, as a leader, as a friend, as a brother. I learned that everyone is different and everyone communicates differently and how to navigate that. I learned how to compromise. I learned how to budget. I even learned how to cook . . . sort of. And I’m sure there are many more things I’ve learned from Cap Corps that I haven’t even realized yet.
I am beyond grateful for how God has blessed me through this program and I already look back with nostalgia at the wonderful year that it has been, but ultimately, I look back with the knowledge that it is not an end but a beginning, a preparation for something more, and I couldn’t ask for a better beginning.
Jack Giannetti is a 2021-22 Cap Corps Volunteer serving at Sacred Heart School in Washington, DC. Jack graduated from the University of Florida where he studied Math.