Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reflecting on a Year of Service

by Erica Stewart

Students of Immaculate Conception Academy
For the last few days in the month of June, I was blessed enough to spend time in Racine, Wisconsin with the sisters at their Motherhouse, the twelve other volunteers, and our wonderful program directors. This retreat provided ample time for reflection of my year of service and was the perfect ending to what has become one of the best years of my life. Have you ever made a decision—especially an important one—and just known deep inside you that it was the perfect for you? This was confirmed for me each and every day during my time with DVUSA, whether it was in my interactions with my students, coworkers, community members, or fellow volunteers. 

At our retreat, Mike gave us the opportunity to look over our applications that we had submitted more than a year before for DVUSA. This was such a wonderful experience for me to see the transformation I have undergone over the past year. For some questions, the answers have remained very much the same, like my desire to participate in service which I truly believe speaks to God’s intended path for my life: that I am called to serve forever and not until my contract ends July 13th

Erica and Kristen
Over the past year, even through long painful minutes of waiting for my students to quiet down and prepare for my lessons, tearful reflections about the integration of God in my service year, seemingly endless lists of tasks that I never thought would reach their deadline, and of course, hours of prayer, together and community, I have responded to the call to serve with a fervent “yes” that echoes the same response that Mary gave in the Annunciation.

Please do not confuse this statement with my thinking I am anything like a divine figure because Lord knows I am far from it, but she, along with the members of my religious community who pray to her daily, has become a strong role model in difficult times when I find that the answer of “yes” too often slips off my lips when I am asked to take on yet another responsibility. Though I was asked to do quite the variety of tasks, ranging from preparing lessons on Charlemagne for my Church History class to leading an Amazing Race challenge for our freshmen around the city to cleaning out our faculty room refrigerator to hunting down the students who have failed to hand in their homework to stay after school, I often found it difficult to say no when I was asked to do something, no matter how full my plate seemed to be that day because I often did see the benefit in my “yes” to complete these tasks, whether it be a smile, a thank you, or on the very lucky days, a Starbucks gift card when I finally won the Faculty Friday raffle.

Immaculate Conception Academy staff
At the end of the day, and reaching the end of my service year, I am thankful for my ability to say “yes” and hope that it will continue to move me down the path God intends me to travel upon in my life, especially as I move on to my next job working as a recruitment associate for Catholic Volunteer Network. I hope that I will inspire others called to service to respond “yes” to help those who are so often told “no” by everyone else. Thank you, my Dominican family, for inspiring me to say yes and helping to unite us all in one body of Christ!

1 comment:

  1. We LOVED you Erica! And I miss you soooo much! It waas fun seeing you the other day. I'm so happy you finally won that raffle--and guess what? Anya, one of the few remaining "L"s, won it last week ;-)