The Lifelong Impact of Service

To celebrate the sixth day of Catholic Volunteer Network’s Twelve Days of Christmas, six members of our staff are sharing the ways that service has changed their lives. 

“Service changed my entire understanding of love. Through service I learned that love is not an emotion, but an action that God calls us to choose every day, in every moment and every relationship. It is in making that choice that we build God’s kingdom, here on earth.”
         Caitlin Morneau, alumni of Catholic Charities Project SERVE and Bethlehem Farm
“One way that long-term service changed me was through my experience of intentional community. I found that one cannot fully give of themselves in ministry without belonging to a community. Community, whether with those we minister to or those we live with, is vital to the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. My community served as a source of support, laughter and love for me and taught me the importance of journeying with others in service.”
        Michael Garcia, alumni of Cap Corps East and Red Cloud Volunteer Program
“My experience of serving as a lay missioner in Zambia helped me understand the importance of presence. In my service I encountered a lot of situations that I did not have solutions for. I couldn’t heal the children dying of AIDS, I couldn’t rebuild the homes that were damaged in a fire, I couldn’t restore the harvest that had been lost to drought. It took me a while to realize that I didn’t need to fix everything in order to be useful, sometimes I just needed to be there.  I learned to simply listen and offer a hand to hold, and it is in these quiet moments that I felt the gentle, healing presence of God working through me.”
         Katie Mulembe, alumni of Franciscan Mission Service
“Service taught me to appreciate the unexpected. I learned that I can’t always prepare or plan ahead for what I will face – at work, in my community, or in any other aspect of my life. My service taught me to enjoy and value this reality, instead of fear it. As a result, I became better able to grow from new challenges, learn from new experiences, and be grateful the new opportunities in my life.”
        Emily Simmonds, alumni of Lutheran Volunteer Corps
“Through service, I learned that true freedom comes from doing small things with great love and faithfulness.”
          Barbara Wheeler, alumni of Vincentian Service Corps
“During my service year I learned the importance of recognition. The tenants I worked with had often been overlooked, pushed aside or ignored by passersby; however, these tenants were more than their housing situations and current addresses. These wonderful people I worked with were sports fans, family members, and engaged community members. Recognition in its many forms is a declaration of saying, ‘You are you.’ The recognition provided support and allowed my tenants to do incredible things – lobbying local elected officials for stronger community safety programs, teaching young adults the difficulty of finding affordable housing, and providing input on a citywide anti-homelessness campaign.”
        Gordon Wong, alumni of Amate House

We’d like to hear from you – how has service made an impact on your life? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 
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