I recall a former work colleague who was from Israel, and shared that it was mandatory that everyone serve two years in the military. He would often share of the many good memories of working with others, and how that has a way of uniting the whole country. (He was fortunate enough to have not experienced war.) I am not a believer in war. However, I do see the benefits of spending a year or two in service to God and fellow man. In my years of ministry, I have met numerous persons who are taking a year or two out from “normal life” to serve as a full-time volunteer. I have met young adults who teach with AmeriCorps. They live together and usually teach in poor schools. I have met people who’ve volunteered with Maryknoll Missionaries and served in Africa and central America. I have met Catholic Worker volunteers working in our inner-cities, and people who’ve served in the Peace Corps. As part of my own discernment, before entering the Franciscans, I had become aware of the many possibilities to volunteer full time and work in faith based ministries. Often these ministries are in association with a Religious Order. The volunteers live together and receive free room and board, and some even receive health insurance. Volunteers work together AND pray together. They usually receive Spiritual guidance from the religious order to which they are affiliated, and learn about their charism and Spirituality.
Such service can be life changing! In my life as a Franciscan, I have had the opportunity to visit and minister in other countries, and even in this country, to people of backgrounds very different than mine. These experiences are life altering. They widen our perspective, and teach us many things about ourselves and God’s Kingdom. Giving a year or two of your life for such a purpose may sound like a great sacrifice, but most people I know who have done it, say that it has made their lives richer. They were grateful they took the time to do it. Some even met their spouses, or discovered a call to Religious Life, during these times!
Here is a website that has information about Catholic Volunteer Opportunities: https://www.catholicvolunteernetwork.org/
Here you can order a catalog of volunteer opportunities:
Volunteering for a year or two can help you in discerning a call to Religious life, but is also just a great way to helping you find your Vocation no matter what it may be. I am confident that full time volunteer service will give you many fond memories, and help form you as a Missionary Disciple, that is; one who gives their entire life in service of God’s Kingdom, and growing to become more Christlike throughout life.
Join us for our next Come & See event July 17-20, where we will learn more about finding your Vocation, and see our 12 new Novices receive the Franciscan Habit for the first time! Click here for more information.