United State Senator
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”
--Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (1907-1991)
Senator Tim Kaine was elected to his first term as a United States Senator from Virginia in 2012. Prior to being in the Senate, he served as the Governor of Virginia and the Mayor of Richmond and was in private practice for twenty-five years as a civil rights lawyer. He was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election.
Raised by devout parents with solidly Mid-western values, his Catholic faith was further deepened and strengthened through the Jesuits he encountered at his Kansas City high school and at the Jesuit mission in Honduras. These formative experiences continue to impact his public and personal life, one defined by a habit of reflection that shapes and guides his actions.
It was April 23, 1973, the spring of Kaine’s freshman year at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City. Excitement filled the air at this all-boys Jesuit school. Time Magazine’s lead story that week featured mystic and influential leader of the Society of Jesus, Pedro Arrupe, S.J., whose broad smile lit up the cover against the eye-catching orange and red backdrop of the nationally recognized magazine. (“The Jesuits Search for a New Identity,” Time Magazine, April 23, 1973).
Reviving the Ignatian tradition of a “mysticism of open eyes,” Fr. Arrupe as the Superior General of the Jesuits was at that time the face of his order’s commitment to and compassion for the poor, adopting practices and positions that at the time stoked controversy.
At this Jesuit high school, Fifteen-year old Tim Kaine had already distinguished himself as a facile thinker and avid reader. On day one of freshman year when he and his classmates were asked by their Jesuit English teacher to write down every novel that they had ever read, some of his classmates may have hastily dashed off a short list of four or five books. Kaine however relished this homework assignment, turning in page after page that included multiple works by Leo Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegot, John Steinbeck and many, many others that he had stumbled upon in the library or in his home.
When the time came during Kaine’s sophomore year for Rockhurst’s annual donation to be delivered to a Jesuit mission in Honduras, it was natural for Kaine to receive the honor of being one of two students chosen to travel with the gift.
Each year, two students were selected and the following year it would be upon those two to run the mission drive at home. The poverty of the Honduran people came as a jolt. Kaine never quite forgot them, nor the Jesuits like Brother Jim O’Leary dedicated to serving them. Tucked into the recesses of his mind was the notion of going back there someday as a volunteer.
The intellectual rigor and the social justice teaching of the Jesuits had quickened Kaine’s mind. But there was something about that penetrating gaze of Fr. Arrupe and the Jesuit spirit at Rockhurst and in Honduras that stirred Kaine’s heart as well.
Learn more about Tim Kaine