(Each numbered question or set of questions should be its own blog post.)
“When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change. Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection.”
-Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ
1.1) BEFORE you begin your service, answer these questions about your agency:
a. What service agency did you choose?
b. Why are you interested this agency? How will your unique gifts and talents be utilized serving at this agency on this trip?
c. Why do you want to work with this population, and what do you think is the greatest need of the people you will be serving?
d. What is one thing you’re looking forward to and one thing you are nervous about regarding your agency? How do you think your personal prejudices will be challenged by this service?
e. What is your attitude about Christian Service? Is it an obligation or something you are looking forward to?
1.2) BEFORE you begin your service, answer these questions about your faith life:
a. Briefly describe your faith life at this point: where is your faith strong and where do you have your doubts?
b. Is your faith life connected to Christian Service? Why or why not?
c. How do you understand the call of Catholics to a “faith that does justice?”
d. How do you think your Christian Service will affect your faith life?
1.3) Lastly, BEFORE your service begins, set a goal for your service.
a. What is your goal?
b. What will achieving this goal accomplish for the people you’re serving?
c. What will you do to achieve your goal?
d. How will you know if your goal has been accomplished?
2.) AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF SERVICE:
a. What did you do today? Who did you interact with? Were you uncomfortable? Excited? Do you think service at this agency will be what you expected? Why or why not?
b. What are you most looking forward to about your service?
3.) AFTER 20 HOURS OF SERVICE:
a. Christian Service work is often challenging: physically, mentally, and emotionally. What is something you’ve observed at your agency that saddens you? What is something about your agency that frustrates you? What is something that your agency does well to serve the people that come to them? How do you deal with the strengths and weaknesses of your agency?
b. How has your attitude about Christian Service changed? Do you feel utilized and/or challenged by your work?
c. Most importantly, how have you dealt with the discomfort that your service presents you with? What do you do when you feel nervous or uncomfortable with the people you are serving?
4.) AFTER 30 HOURS OF SERVICE: (You’re halfway there, congratulations!)
a. Describe someone you met and have gotten to know during your service. What is their story? How did they come into contact with your agency?
b. How has getting to know this person strengthened or tested your faith thus far? What are you grateful for in your own life?
c. Where have done your best work thus far? Have you taken initiative in and ownership of your work? Why or why not? How can you make the most of the time you have left?
5.) AFTER 40 HOURS OF SERVICE:
a. Now that you know people who are facing poverty and marginalization personally, what do you feel is the biggest injustice facing the people you are serving? How has this changed from the beginning of your service?
6.) AFTER 50 HOURS OF SERVICE:
a. Now that your service is almost complete, would you suggest your agency to another student? Why or why not?
b. Is there anything you would like me to know about your agency?
7.) AFTER 60 HOURS OF SERVICE: (Congratulations!)
a. Look back to your first blog post. Is your understanding of the agency you chose still the same? If you could go back in time, would you choose the same agency?
b. Now that you’re done, what would you say is the greatest need of the population you served? What does society need to do to meet that need?
c. Do you feel like you achieved the goal you set before your service? Why or why not? Did achieving that goal have the outcome you expected or a different one? Explain.
d. How has this hands-on work with people who are poor and marginalized affected your faith life? What are you thankful for in your life?
e. On your Sophomore Retreat last year you learned about becoming a disciple, and using your specific gifts and talents to serve God and others. How did your Christian Service work continue your journey toward becoming a disciple in your own way?
f. What is the greatest lesson you learned from your 60 hours?
Oscar Romero said, “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”
An important part of doing Christian Service is taking the lessons it teaches you and carrying them forward. That is what advocacy is. Now that you have had a direct experience with people who are poor and marginalized, it is your responsibility and duty to use your position in life to work against the injustice that pushes people to the margins of society. As Romero pointed out, you cannot single handedly end injustice. However, you can take important steps to make life easier for generations that come after you. In your Christian Service seminar this year, we will put a strong focus on advocacy and continued work for justice, so please begin to brainstorm ways you can continue to work for the population your agency served.