Paying it forward; We are Called to Serve.
Thanks for the inspiration to write this Belinda Spillman , I look forward to reading what others are writing for your Challenge.
Christ set the example of Servant Leadership when he took on the role of the lowest servant, tied a towel around his waist, and knelt down to wash the feet of his disciples.
And his next command was a simple and profound one, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”. (John 13:1-17)
This example of humility and service is a role that the Franciscan orders embrace within the Catholic Church as we look for opportunities to serve those in need.
Service is something that we take seriously in our family, though I do feel a little strange talking about it, but for the sake of this contest I will do a little bit of sharing about our missions.
My children grew up knowing that God expects them to help those in need of help.
Doing chores for elderly, helping family, helping friends, working in various church programs and basically helping wherever needed.
Christ made it very clear that He expected his followers to serve His people, and that expectation is carried down to the present age where we are still expected to seek out those in need and minister to them and their needs.
Several members of our family are members of the Secular Franciscan Order, with one of them approaching priesthood.
I am currently serving as the Minister of our local fraternity, where I get a first hand look at the needs of many in our area.
We have the opportunity to help people with a variety of needs, from the elderly, to youth, and even a growing number of homeless people. All in need of different types of assistance both spiritual and physical, fortunately, I have a good group to help out with the needs of those in our community.
I also serve as a Regional Vice Minister where I help to lead and coach the ministers of the fraternities within our region to lead their fraternities and the people that they serve.
One of my missions this year has been helping to get a little place called Franciscans Downtown up and running.
Franciscans Downtown is a place for spiritual renewal and refreshment in the heart of downtown Stevens Point, started by Fr. Placid Stroik, a Franciscan priest who recently retired after serving for 30 years at Covenant House in NYC.
At 80 years of age Fr. Placid was not quite ready for retirement so in addition to serving as a chaplain for a large convent in Manitowac, Wisconsin, he set out to create something good in his home town of Stevens Point.
A few years ago, we started this venture which is run by a couple of Franciscan priests, several Franciscan Sisters, several Secular Franciscans, and other volunteers from the community.
People gather here for meetings as well as a place to sit, relax, learn, pray, converse and share their stories.
We are often called on to do much more as many of the less fortunate people of our town find it to be a warm welcoming place. They can come in to get away from the cold and find a welcome hand, a little food and drink and other assistance.
I block out several afternoons per week whenever I am in town, to spend down there helping where I can, and learning from Fr. Placid and Fr. Finian, and the others, as well as sharing my skills and experiences.
It has been a rewarding time helping with this mission and I am constantly marveled at the people that God sends through the door on the days that I am there, some with a lesson for me to learn, and some with a need that seems designed for me to help solve.
I know that a great many priests, brothers and sisters are praying for our mission here, so I should not be surprised when divine circumstances continue to happen, but it does continue to amaze me.
Hopefully, this mission can continue and we will produce an enduring establishment that can continue to produce fruit far beyond the time that Fr. Placid, myself and the other volunteers have left to spend here.
But regardless of what the future may bring, as Fr. Placid has mentioned to me many times, if we just bring some of Christ's love and tenderness to one person today, our mission will be fulfilled.
Another operation that I enjoy working with is a warming shelter to help to keep the folks who will not fit into the local Salvation Army shelter out of the cold until Spring. We are open from the end of October through the first of May and do make a difference in keeping people alive.
Personally I work 2 ten hour nights per week here, and encourage my fraternity to serve here as much as they can as well.
The missions that my fraternity and myself help with seems to be a fluid list and larger than can be covered here. I am grateful that we can all work hard to make the world a better place and serve the people that God wants us to serve.