Saturday, March 1, 2014

Intentional community living: most challenging and most rewarding part of service


CVN recruiter Gordon Wong went south earlier this month and still didn't escape the cold!

By Gordon Wong

Recruitment update: If you have been paying any attention to the weather you know that the cold has pretty much left no region of the United States untouched. It was quite the week for the Southeast region of the country! My flight was not cancelled once but twice! The Diocese of Charleston has a great director of college campus minister by the name of Jim Grove and he set me up with a total of seven…that’s right seven school visits! Unfortunately because of the cold South Carolina cancelled schools and shut down airports. I was still able to visit five campuses – Furman University, Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, and the Citadel.

Click here to read Service Day participant Shelby’s reflection on the day.

What an incredible week of visits! The visits didn’t end in South Carolina but continued onto Atlanta!

Gordon speaks to students at the Lyke house in their
"Sermon Talk-Back" session after Sunday mass.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Morris.
I am currently writing to you from Atlanta. Usually known as “Hot anta” it has not lived up to the nickname! The entire city is preparing for another snowstorm that is expected to approach the region in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

This week consisted of visits to Kennesaw State, the Lyke House which serves Clark Atlanta, Spelman, and Morehouse, the Lutheran ministry of Georgia Tech and Emory, and Georgia Tech’s Office of Leadership & Civic Engagement. I want to highlight my visit to the Lyke House. We have had a strong relationship with the Lyke House for a few years now and it has been a few years since we last visited. There I was welcomed into their community and presented Catholic Volunteer Network to a captive audience. The audience was engaging and asked a lot of great questions about the process of becoming a volunteer. Campus minister Ashely Morris wrote to me after the visit saying, “It is our prayer that a solid group of students from the Lyke House can and will participate in the opportunities provided through your work and the work of CVN.”

Gordon talks to the students of Lyke house about our
RESPONSE directory. Order your copy or search online.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Morris.
Community: While in Atlanta I stayed with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. For over 20 years these sisters have hosted volunteers from our member program Dominican Volunteers USA and I am so grateful for their hospitality. In this particular community lay people will live with women religious and it creates a unique inter-generational community. 

In addition to my recruitment update I want to talk about one of the four pillars that make up Catholic Volunteer Network: community.

You will notice that the four values our member programs have in common are: spirituality, community, simplicity, and social justice. In my community I lived with 9 recent college graduates where we shared 10 different views on service, came from 10 different experiences, and literally had 10 different ways to make rice! Despite our difference what made our community strong was the knowledge that we were all committing ourselves to live a more simple and intentional life. Our community blossomed from this knowledge.

From my experience at CVN, I have found out that not all communities were made up of 10 people. Some programs choose to have smaller communities perhaps made up of three to five volunteers? I’m probably a bit biased but I really enjoyed my time in a community of 10. I felt like there was always someone in the house looking for an adventure to embark on. I also felt like I was also given the time and space to be on my own as well. As you can imagine serving where you are serving is hard work and to live in an intentional community is just as hard! Though community may be one of the hardest and most challenging aspects to this year of service I think it is the most rewarding of them all.

Questions to Ponder:
-          What type of community am I seeking?
-          How will my community strengthen my faith life?
-          Where do I want to be when I join this community? Urban or rural setting? Domestic or abroad?
-          Who do I want to make up my community? Recent graduates? Intergenerational? Women or men religious?