BY ISN STAFF | July 22, 2016
Senator Timothy Kaine (D-VA) has been selected by Hilary Clinton, former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, as her vice presidential running mate for the Democratic ticket. Kaine is Catholic and a 1976 graduate of Rockhurst High School, an all-boys Jesuit high school in Kansas City, Missouri. He also spent a year volunteering with a Jesuit missionary from 1980 to 1981. Kaine has served in the U.S. Senate since 2013, joining over fifty fellow-graduates of Jesuit high schools and universities in the 114th Congress. Prior to the Senate he served as the governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, the lieutenant governor from 2002-2006, and the mayor of Richmond, Virginia from 1998 to 2001.
Kaine’s experience volunteering at a Jesuit-run vocational school in the early 1980’s has influenced his continue work in Congress, Kaine continues to be fluent in Spanish and has focused efforts of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which he serves, on the U.S. role in the violence-plagued Central American country.In November 2014, Senator Kaine met with Fr. Ismael “Melo” Moreno Coto, S.J., a Honduran-based Jesuit and well-known human rights activist. Kaine and Fr. Melo discussed the evolution of the Jesuit role in Honduras, where Kaine worked with Jesuit missionaries in 1980 – 1981. Father Melo, who directs two Jesuit ministries: Radio Progreso and E.R.I.C. (The Team for Reflection, Research and Communication), highlighted the important role of the media, civil society, and other non-governmental organizations in countering deteriorating security and economic conditions in Honduras, like those driving migration. During the meeting, Kaine described his time in Honduras as the most important year of his life. “I think of El Progreso everyday,” Kaine said. “The people, aside from my family, are the most important in shaping who I am today.”
In February 2015, Senator Kaine joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a three-day visit to Honduras focused on economic and security challenges facing the country, as well as consideration of President Obama’s then-proposed $1 billion aid package for Central America. In addition to meeting with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, the Senators spoke with business leaders, members of Honduran civil society, and U.S. officials working to combat gang violence and impunity and promote human rights in a country that significantly contributed to the unaccompanied minors crisis in 2014.
During the trip Senator Kaine had the opportunity to return to El Progreso, a small city outside San Pedro Sula where he volunteered. After attending Ash Wednesday services at Parquia de la Mercedes, a church he regularly attended, Kaine was “welcomed home” to the Instituto Tecnico Loyola by former Jesuit colleagues and more than 300 current students and teachers. Thirty-five years after he taught carpentry and welding there, Kaine toured the expanded campus and spoke to a school-wide assembly, reflecting on his time in Honduras.
“The school has grown rapidly, but the spirit of the people here is exactly the same,” said Kaine. “El Progreso is extremely special to me. My experience working at Loyola taught me the importance of access to skills-based training – both in Honduras and the U.S. – and inspired me to pursue the issue of expanding career and technical education in the U.S. Senate.” While at Loyola, Kaine also visited Radio Progreso & ERIC.
Kaine is not the only member of a 2016 presidential ticket to be educated at a Jesuit institution. Mr. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, studied at Fordham University for two years before transferring to the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania.