All posts tagged: service

Notre Dame Vision and the Art of Accompaniment

As an undergraduate student imagining what life after college might hold, I joked more than once about wanting to be a professional Notre Dame Vision Mentor-in-Faith. Besides all of the laughter and play that came with the job, I discovered that walking with the high school participants made me come alive. The participants’ unique stories of struggle and joy inspired me, and their impressionability in such a broken world motivated me to pray hard for them and for myself as their Mentor-in-Faith. I hoped to find a way of life after college that might spur me to holiness in the way that being a small group leader did. During my first Vision summer in 2010, a dear friend and Holy Cross seminarian invited some Mentors-in-Faith to wash dishes at Our Lady of the Road, a drop-in center run by the Catholic Worker that offers breakfast, laundry, and showers to anyone who might walk through the doors. I fell in love with the people there and discerned to move into the Catholic Worker house of hospitality …

“You can eat with us”: On Poverty and Community

Twenty years ago, I asked Paul, the tall, burly, blunt, and opinionated leader of the Catholic soup kitchen, if I could take my youth group to serve dinner. “Nope!” he barked. Startled, I squeaked out, “Um, why?” “I used to do exit interviews of high school kids after serving, and one kid said what all the other kids thought: ‘It’s good to serve someone I’m better than.’ You can eat with us. Your kids can come down, a couple at a time.” Paul, in his blunt way, echoed the eloquence of St. Vincent de Paul: You will find out that Charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the kettle of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give soup and bread. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor, always smiling and good-humored. They are your masters, terribly sensitive and exacting masters you will see. And the uglier and the dirtier they will be, the more unjust …

The Saint of Calcutta: Mother Teresa and the Pain of Joy

On September 4, 2016, the woman who claimed that if she ever became a saint she would “surely be one of ‘darkness’”[1] will enter the canon of the Church in broad daylight, for all the world to see. Till the end of the age, the universal name of charity that was “Mother Teresa” will become “Saint Teresa of Calcutta.” With the possible exception of St. John Paul II, no saint in the history of the Church has been known by so many people at the time of canonization, which makes the holiness of this saint both more available for observation and more difficult to discern. Knowing more about someone is not the same as knowing them well and in coming to know Mother Teresa as Saint Teresa, we are asked to deepen our knowledge of her according to her holiness, which her very public persona both hides and discloses. If she is a saint of darkness she is also a saint of joy. Yet, knowing her as the one in darkness and the one in …

Teaching and Making Space Holy

Going into a new environment is always stressful, especially when heading into summer school. The kids don’t want to be there. They would rather be goofing around outdoors or spending hours playing PokemonGo on their smart phones. They do not want to be looking at my face trying to teach them study skills. Study skills, I know, is not an actual subject which made the teaching all the more difficult. But I found myself at an underserved Catholic high school in my hometown teaching just that: mnemonics they’ll never use, Cornell outlining that’s too much work, and reading comprehension selections they despise. It has surely been an uphill climb. One thing has allowed that climb to be a bit easier. The school was founded by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or the Christian Brothers, vowed lay men who teach the poor. Since their founding several hundred years ago by St. John Baptist De La Salle, the patron saint of teachers, the Brothers have labored long and hard teach and teach the poor well. The …

Review: “The Heart of the Diaconate” by Deacon James Keating

Deacon James Keating’s The Heart of the Diaconate: Communion with the Servant Mysteries of Christ is a gift to the Church. His book is fruitful reading not only for deacons, bishops, and priests, but also for anyone in or involved with diaconal formation. The author, a theologian whose daily work is the formation of priests and deacons, is uniquely qualified to write a book on what is at heart of the diaconate. At the heart of the diaconate is communion with Christ through his servant mysteries, chief among which is the Eucharist, the truest expression of and so the only starting point for diakonia. Keating’s book is comprised of an introduction and conclusion with three chapters in between. These three chapters cover discerning the call to the diaconate, the period of formation leading to ordination, and diaconal ministry. In my view each of these chapters is worthy of a book. One thing about which Keating changed my mind is the necessity of the transitional diaconate for those men preparing for priestly ordination. “Seminary formation,” he argues, …