“Forget Yourself and Think of Others”
Volunteering and Jesus’ Mission

This story by Sister Geraldine Kemper, OP first appeared in JUST Words, winter 2018.

Many organizations depend on volunteers to achieve their mission. What motivating force compels someone to volunteer time, knowledge, energy, and love? Pope Francis said during an audience last March, “Love and charity are service, helping others, serving others. There are many people who sped their lives in this way, in service of others…. When you forget yourself and think of others, this is love!”

With Christ at the center of our retired sisters’ lives, they continue to share the love of Jesus. Sister Mary Karla Fritz* tutors a Mexican woman in English, allowing Sister Karla to share the goodness of Jesus while giving her student a feeling of accomplishment. Bringing others joy has brought sister Karla joy, too.

Likewise, Sister Ancilla Caulfield tutors two students, a Sacred Heart Convent employee and Franciscan Sister Ofelia Quiroz, MAG, who teaches religious education. She helps them master their English skills and is grateful for the opportunity to be of service to these women who enrich her life.

Each week Sister Marianne Nolan meets with Maria, a young mother from Mexico who job requires her to write reports in English. They study grammar while reviewing and correcting Maria’s reports. Through this relationship, Sister Marianne’s understanding of Mexican culture and the faith sharing she and Maria experience inspires, nourishes, and moves her to thank God that she can be of service.

Responding to Jesus…I was in prison and you visited me…Sister Regina Marie Bernet has volunteered in prison ministry in Decatur, Lincoln, and Jacksonville, Illinois. Using her education and God-given artistic talent she conducts art therapy classes, retreats, and scripture sharing. Sister Regina Marie considers it a privilege to be a bearer of hope and encouragement.

Sister Francella Vyverman believes the Holy Spirit steered her car to the Washington Street Mission, where her servant heart found a place to volunteer. The city’s homeless are greeted with a warm cup of coffee, a sweet roll, a gentle spirit, a welcoming smile, and respectful concern coming from a heart filled with Jesus’ love.

Pope Francis gives us words not just for thought but action, “How marvelous it would be if at the end of the day, each of us could say, today I have performed an act of charity towards others.”

*Sister Karla died June 7, 2018. May she rest in peace.

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