Most Saturdays, especially those overshadowed by rain and cold, are prime sleep-in opportunities for college students. Yet at 8:30 a.m. last weekend more than 60 from Viterbo University came through doors of St. Rose Convent with light and joy to join FSPA in a day of service projects. The energy and excitement was contagious as participants eagerly grabbed fabric to make blankets and dry ingredients to package instant soup in jars, ready to share their joy of life with others.
Service Saturday students from Viterbo University at St. Rose Convent
Collaboration between the Viterbo community and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration on behalf of serving others was the theme dubbed Service Saturday. As FSPA director of membership I co-coordinated the event with Kirsten Gabriel (director of Viterbo's service learning program) who reminded everyone of the mutual transformation that is possible when we enter into service with open minds and hearts.
A Viterbo student makes valentines for veterans with Sister Esther Leis
Sister Antona Schedlo reiterated the importance of service as it contributes to mission. Sharing her vocation story and commitment to the mission of FSPA, she challenged everyone to follow their dreams and take time to ponder how far they are willing to go to reach them. Her goal as a young sister was to serve as a missionary and, although it took more than 17 years, she did make it to the mission fields of her dreams in El Salvador. She invited participants to look beyond the projects of the day into the deeper reality of serving others throughout their lives. The activities are more than tasks to complete: sewing mittens to donate to The Salvation Army is a way to stitch together the stories of those in need and letting their lived realities change your outlook.
Two of the many pairs of mittens knitted that day
Heads nodded as the wisdom of Sister Antona’s thought-provoking statements took root. More than hands were busy later that morning as students pondered the deeper meaning of packing hygiene bags for homeless, frosting Valentine cookies for a local shelter, writing letters of care and encouragement to people they don't know nor will see face-to-face.
You could almost hear them wondering what it's like to walk in the shoes of someone in need. What lessons do they teach? How are both parties changed in their awareness? The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus accompanying others in good times and challenging ones, inspiring the disciples not to impose power but to walk with the people. St. Francis of Assisi learned this lesson by taking time to accompany the lepers; observing and then taking action.
Discernment has such mutuality at its core.
It takes the willingness to learn and grow along the journey of life. Sometimes it means relinquishing control and letting God provide the lesson—vulnerability offered for those willing to let the experiences of service sink in.
How can the idea of collaboration shed light on your discernment journey?
Are you open to the idea that God co-creates with you the future?
Want more inspiration for service and discernment? Check out the recent Global Sisters Report article "Oh, the places you'll go if you collaborate."