Throughout National Catholic Sisters Week, Catholic Volunteer Network will share interviews with volunteers currently serving alongside sisters. In each post you will hear a little more about how the volunteers found their program and what they’ve learned from the sisters they work with. Today we feature Cheryl Rozinski from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, a graduate from St. Joseph’s University, volunteering with Good Shepherd Volunteers.
Cheryl, with fellow foster care advocates, staff, and former foster care youth
meet with New York State Senator Marisol Alcantara, on advocacy day
for funding for foster youth to go to college.
How did you find your volunteer program? What appealed to you about it?
While attending the year of service fair hosted by Campus Ministry, one of my college mentors pointed out the Good Shepherd Volunteer staff and suggested that I ask about their public policy volunteer position. As I listened to the recruiter share about the government relations position in New York City, and the advocacy work that the current volunteer was involved in, I felt the Holy Spirit tug on my heart. She went on to share about the four tenets of the program—community, spirituality, simplicity, and social justice—and the tagline “just love.” I connected with everything she described and inwardly I could feel the excitement well up as I thought “yes, this is it,” while outwardly I calmly thanked the recruiter for her time, shared that I anticipated applying, and looked forward to getting to know the program further.
Cheryl and a facilitator stand in front of the answers that a group of youth
generated, when asked “why a job is important?” These sessions were
held to prepare young people to speak with legislators on Youth Action Day.
Where do you serve?
My office is located in mid-Manhattan, which makes the simplicity tenet a unique challenge. My title is “Public Policy Fellow,” and I serve in the Government and Community Relations department, which is a small but mighty team of three, committed to changing the city and state political landscape to benefit our participants. Day-to-day I represent the agency at coalition meetings, plan and attend advocacy meetings with elected officials and their staff, and update my colleagues on key policy or government developments. My greatest accomplishment thus far was planning Youth Action Day, an advocacy day in Albany attended by 300 youth and staff, to ask for more funded slots for the Summer Youth Employment Program. Because I serve in the home office, and the 6 other New York City volunteers serve in our programs, I view it as my personal mission to share information, events, and resources with my counterparts so that we all can be engaged in the agency’s advocacy mission.
Cheryl hard at work coordinating meeting logistics for 300 youth and
chaperons participating in Youth Action Day in Albany, NY.
How has service strengthened your faith and your understanding of vocation?
Before beginning this year of service journey, I knew whose I was, and for whom I work—God. This year, I have been given the space to pray as I walk by men and women experiencing homelessness or hunger, to practice Lectio Divina with my spiritual director, and to foster deep connections in my church community. I have found a field that I love, and want to commit my career to, and I have gained a vocabulary to define my dreams. For the first time, I have found my identity in both work and faith, and discerned my calling to use my God-given talents to advocate for justice in our society.
What have you learned from living and working with the sisters?
Sr. Paulette, the Executive Director of the nonprofit that I serve, is incredibly patient and disciplined. She attends church every morning before coming to a busy and full day at work, and always takes time to say good morning and check in with individuals. Despite the many demands of her role, she maintains a person-centered approach, which is a practice that I try to emulate. From her and the other Sisters that I have had the pleasure of meeting, I have witnessed intense devotion to God, beautiful commitment to community, and incredible love for all people. The sisters lead by example, and have shared and shown great wisdom, which has offered me countless life lessons applicable now and as I go forth to continue serving.
What advice would you give to someone interested in full-time volunteer service?
As a Myers-Briggs affirmed thinker, I was naturally hesitant about living with less. However, I’ve found that by giving up my conventional desires, I am actually living with more. I see, smell, hear, taste, and feel more deeply, which subsequently, gives me more to think about. This year, I am developing intentional practices that will guide me throughout my life, while having the opportunity to impact the community that I am placed. I would advise you to enter your experience with an open-mind and an open-heart, expecting that unexpected changes and growth will occur.
To learn more about CVN’s From Service to Sisterhood initiative and discernment resources for volunteers, please click here.
For more information about National Catholic Sisters Week, including details about events taking place all over the U.S. please click here