Lent 2017: Reflections from Current & Former Volunteers Lent 2017 - Page 3

Matthew 6:1-6 , 16-18
March 1 , 2017

Ash Wednesday

Matthew 6:1-6 , 16-18

“ If today you hear His voice ; harden not your hearts .”
Reflection by Katie Mulembe , Catholic Volunteer Network Staff and Franciscan Mission Service Returned Missioner
My mission in Zambia turned out to be nothing like I expected . Before I left , I had spent a lot of time researching the country , learning about the current status of abject poverty and HIV / AIDS in the region , deciding on the best regime for malaria prevention , even carefully choosing the items that I would pack in my suitcase . I thought I knew what I was getting in to , and I truly believed that I was going to make a difference in the lives of the people I was there to serve . My ministry site was an orphanage for young children , and I was put in charge of fifteen 2-3 year olds . All it took was one botched attempt to change a cloth diaper to help me realize that I still had so much to learn . Thankfully , I was surrounded by a welcoming community of fellow caregivers who not only helped me clean up the mess , but also patiently re-explained the correct folds and pin placement . I had many moments like this – where I found myself overestimating my own aptitude and in need of help from the very people I was there to serve . This was a big lesson in humility for me . I began to spend more and more time in prayer – asking God to help me understand why I was called to a job I felt so underqualified for – and I started to see that it was my pride that kept getting in the way . Only when I learned to slow down and trust that it was not about my own abilities , but rather my openness to God working through me and through those around me , that my mission began to have meaning .
I think that the Lenten journey is a bit like the experience of starting a volunteer program . You enter the season with lofty aspirations and good intentions . You know there will be some sacrifices involved , but you trust that God is going to show up in your life and that will bring meaning to your work . Daily prayer and reflection can help you become more aware of the presence of the Divine surrounding you every day . Take these next forty days to hear how God is speaking to you in unexpected ways .

Prayer :

God of Compassion , Draw me close to You during this season of Lent , and forgive me for the times that my pride has kept me away . May this be a sacred time of growth and healing . Help me to embraceYour love , to see how I am called to serve , and to understand Your will for my life . Amen .

Focus on : The Four Pillars of Faith Based Service : Catholic Volunteer Network is comprised of more than 180 different volunteer programs , covering a variety of types of work , service locations , and time commitments . Each program has a unique ministry to serve the needs of the poor , but they are all united by a common commitment to the four pillars of faith-based service : Simplicity , Social Justice , Community , and Sprituality .. These four values explain how and why our volunteers take on this important , but sometimes challenging work . Throughout this Reflection Guide , current and former volunteers will share about their personal experiences with the four pillars . Here is an overview of what each one means :

Simplicity : Many volunteers receive a small monthly stipend to cover their expenses , but living simply is not only about spending as little money as possible , it is an intentional choice to focus on relationships rather than material goods , and to learn to be better stewards of the gifts that God has given us to enjoy .
Social Justice : As volunteers work alongside people experiencing some of the most dire forms of poverty , they challenge themselves to learn more about the underlying structural and social factors . For many programs , Catholic Social Teaching is the foundation of their understanding of social justice .
Community : Our volunteers do not take on this work alone , they live in intentional communities where they share meals , household chores , and learn to make decisions together . This daily presence in one another ’ s lives is a source of support , accountability , and friendship for volunteers .
Spirituality : For many volunteers , their time of service is also a time of profound spiritual growth . Many programs facilitate regular community spirituality nights , host several retreats throughout the year , and encourage volunteers to seek out a spiritual director . Volunteers often find that their faith comes alive while they are living out these four pillars and engaging in volunteer service .
After graduating from the University of Dayton , Katie journeyed to Zambia , Africa , where she served as a missioner with the Franciscan Mission Service for three years . Soon after completing her mission work in 2007 , Katie was drawn to the mission of Catholic Volunteer Network and joined the team . She now serves as the Director of Operations .
Lenten Reflection Guide - Ash Wednesday , February 18 , 2015