Monday, June 22, 2009

"Only connect" - EM Forster

It was a busy weekend. On Saturday, I got my fill of sun, sweat, and Ozarks roller coasters at Six Flags to celebrate Tennessee and Pittsburgh Volunteers' upcoming birthdays. Then I was up early the next day. to give mission appeal talks for the Catholic Network of Volunteer Service. At every Sunday Mass at College Church. Yes, I went to church three times yesterday.

CNVS is a membership organization of over 2oo different Catholic lay volunteer and missionary programs. If you or someone you know is interested in long-term service, definitely check out Their extensive and easily searched directory is how many of us found VSC.

My mission on Sunday was to give a short spiel after Communion about CNVS, ask people to donate in the second collection, and then stay after Mass to hand out brochures and answer questions. It was actually pretty easy since CNVS had made all the arrangements with the parish, sent in the brochures, and given me a sample speech. The long day notwithstanding, it was interesting to see the different demographics of every Mass and hear three different homilies on the same readings. The Epistle mentioned a very Vincentian motto - "The love of Christ impels us."

I was also amazed at the unexpected connections I made with people, who was interested in what I had to say. For instance, I met the man who is starting a L'Arche home for the handicapped in St. Louis, and wants to get on the directory. My favorite connection was the soon-to-retire high school Spanish teacher who wants to work with immigrants for a year or two. She's also interested in getting her LPN license so she can do medical screening. Despite all these great ideas, she had no idea where to start. I hope my advice was helpful and that she really does achieve her plan.

It was random encounters such as these that inspired my own year of service. A priest on a retreat advised that I "go do something radical for God." A week later, I ran into a former dorm neighbor on my way to Mass. She told me all about her work with immigrants in New Mexico, and gave a lot of encouragement that a service year was indeed practical. I haven't had contact with those people since, but their affect on my life has been profound.

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