Friday, July 29, 2011

Do You Have Five Loaves and Two Fish to Spare?

A reflection on this week's readings.

The story of the Miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand, like most stories in the Gospels, speaks to us today because many of us can identify very readily with the disciples. Like them we find that our care and compassion is often limited to prayer and good wishes. Like the disciples we wish people well but have no intention of taking positive action to help the situation. And, again like the disciple, what prevents us from taking positive action is often the realistic assessment that the little we are able to do is not really going to make any appreciable difference.

But in the gospel we see that when we translate our care and compassion into positive action, the little we are able to do is multiplied by God's grace in such a way that it becomes more than sufficient for the need. All that Jesus needs from us to feed the hungry crowds of the world is our “five loaves and two fish.” Why didn't Jesus just go on and produce bread from thin air to feed the crowd? Because God needs our “five loaves and two fish” in order to perform the amazing miracle of feeding the five thousand.

As individuals, as communities and as a world, we suffer all kinds of hunger – for food, for love, for peace. God is able and willing to satisfy all our hungers. But God is waiting for men and women who believe enough to give up their lunch pack, their “five loaves and two fish,” which God needs to make the miracle possible. What are your five loaves and two fish to share? Do you have 5 days for a short-term mission trip or perhaps 5 months for service? Maybe you can’t share your time and talent, but can you spare 5 minutes in prayer or even 5 dollars for our mission? Visit our website for information on how you can share your five loaves and two fish with the world!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Celebrating Through Service

 by: Molly MacMorris-Adix, Holy Family Volunteer
Catholic Volunteer Network's 2011 Volunteer Story Contest Winner

Molly MacMorris-Adix cuts the cake for the Annual Birthday Party !
Birthdays are incredibly significant cultural events all around the world from the first to the last, and the powerful memories associated with birthdays are immeasurable. Throughout life we delight in and value the celebration of growth that is most evident in childhood. To be excluded from this cultural expectation can leave anyone feeling unimportant, slighted, or insignificant.

Unfortunately, many of the patients at Holy Family Services do not have the resources to provide their children with annual birthday parties as they might wish. From the founding of Holy Family in 1983, poverty and lack of access to health care was identified as a major injustice facing large portions of the local population. In 2010, Hidalgo County had the highest poverty level in the entire United States, with 40 percent of all residents living below the federal poverty level.  In response, Holy Family works hard to provide affordable and supportive maternal care that is empowering for women and families with few to no resources. There is also a keen sense of the significance behind the celebration of birth and growth at Holy Family. For this reason, the founding Sisters decided to host an annual birthday party for all the children born at the birth center. The annual Holy Family Birthday Party has become a longstanding tradition as it continues today. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Alumni Talk: What your year of JVC will be like

By Jacqueline Devereaux Semmens, FJV with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest

Jackie (on right in gray) with her first year housemates
(including her now husband in stripes)
I’ve seen a lot of searches coming to my blog lately with JVC questions like “what to wear” and “what to pack.” So to any future JVs leaving for orientation in two weeks that might be reading this blog, or anyone who is considering a year of service, I, as a former Jesuit Volunteer with 2 years of experience, can tell you (with 90% assuredness) what your year will be like.

Orientation will be the longest week of your life
You discerned, you prayed, you talked to your friends and family, you applied. You were interviewed, and interviewed again, and maybe even a third time. You have filled out countless forms and completed your physicals, graduated from college and for the 1000th time explained to someone what the Jesuit Volunteer Corps is (it’s kinda like a faith based Americorps type program where I will live in community, volunteer at an organization and make $80 a month) and can say it in one breath. You have waited during a painfully long summer, saying goodbye to everyone and everything you’ve known, you have packed in two impossibly small suitcases and have boarded your plane for this grand adventure.

And finally, finally you are here. And now you must wait another week before you go onto actually starting your JVC year. But relax. Listen. You will get there soon enough. You might come away scared out of your mind, convinced that your housemates are crazy, and sore from sitting in plastic folding chairs all week. But you will be home soon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Spoonful of Fun Helps the Program's Mission Thrive

Ready, Set, Go! CCAO is ready for their scavenger hunt.
 Spotlight On: Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

 by: Kitty Robinson, Catholic Volunteer Network Intern

One of the great things about volunteers is that they can come from anywhere in the world. They give up their life at home to serve in an area that is probably unfamiliar to them. Many programs are located in places that have so many things volunteers can see and discover. How can you combine the mission of your program with exploration and fun? The Columban Center of Advocacy and Outreach has found a great way to mesh enjoyment and acts of service, both working together simultaneously.

The Columban Center of Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) is based in the suburbs of Washington D.C., a perfect location to lobby for various concerns on Capitol Hill. Each season, a number of interns from around the world come to work for them, for about three months at a time, to help with their peace and advocacy ministry. They follow legislation, and communicate with various members of Congress and decision makers. This means they are becoming actively involved in issues such as climate change, migration, economic justice, and peace and conflict resolution. CCAO has interns during the fall and spring academic semesters, as well as over the summer.

In addition to this very important work, the supervisors at CCAO arrange fun, yet meaningful, activities for the interns and volunteers to complete before the end of their service. Julie Espina, the Outreach Associate at CCAO, has helped coordinate a scavenger hunt as an enjoyable way for their interns to advocate and explore the city of Washington D.C.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 Catholic Volunteer Network Annual Conference: Top Ten

The Catholic Volunteer Network 2011 National Conference will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 15th- 18th.  Famous for its rich history and culture, Philadelphia is home to many “firsts”: the first zoo, presidential mansion, American flag, daily newspaper, computer and more!  Whether it is your first time or your fiftieth, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to attending this year’s National Conference in Philly:
  1. Wiz Wit’or Wiz Wit’out, Pat’s or Geno’s – you decide where and how to get the best cheesesteak in town!
  2. Channel your inner Rocky Balboa and run the steps of the Art Museum.
  3. What better place to network with fellow program staff members than the City of Brotherly Love?
  4. Speaking of Brotherly Love, you’ll get to experience plenty of it as the famously-friendly fans of baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies welcome you to the home of the 2008 World Series Champions (and – we hope – the 2011 champions as well!).
  5. Walk down the same cobblestone streets that Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin once strode (and thank them for the fact that we don’t drive on the left side of the road).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Be the Tennisball

By Kevin Donohue, Fairfield University Campus Minister and Passionist Volunteers International Alum

Part of the challenge of a year of service is that it takes place within a very discreet and limited time span, but the impact on the volunteer is supposed to last much longer, conceivably for the rest of their life.  This is difficult because within the confines of that year, it’s hard to envision how the sometimes intense lifestyle of volunteering is ultimately going to matter over the course of one’s life.

Early in my year of service with Passionist Volunteers International in Jamaica, this was a concern I had often.  I spent a lot of free time at our neighbors who had internet access, looking at job listings back at home, and wondering how my experience in bringing elderly Jamaicans the Eucharist would make me eligible for any of the interesting positions I came across.  To quote Aventureland, a favorite movie of mine, “What am I supposed to do, I’m not even qualified for manual labor?”