January 20, 2006

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Thanks to all who volunteer their services to the Church

I suspect more Colts paraphernalia was part of last Christmas’ gift exchange than in previous years. But I doubt that more than one Colts emblazoned bishop’s miter was produced and presented as a Christmas gift! Needless to say, there will never be an appropriate liturgical ceremony where it could be worn. It has taken its proud place in my unusual hat collection. I appreciate the ingenuous spirit behind the gift.

Some weeks before Christmas, I wrote about my mom’s pineapple fudge and wondered it anyone had a recipe for it. The son of a mother who never wrote down a recipe, of course, would never think of doing a search on the Internet. But other folks did, and I am grateful.

One woman sent a handwritten recipe that sounds very much like my mom’s. I think I figured out why mom no longer made the fudge in later years. The recipe calls for lots of white sugar and brown sugar! The kind woman who sent the recipe to the editor of The Criterion also wrote: “Good Paper!”—which I appreciate. I send a special thank you to all of you who took the trouble to come to my assistance. The recipes are now part of my collection.

In recent months, more than usual, I have been at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis for various meetings, prayer days and dinners. In every case, the experience was a pleasant one. The staff could not be more accommodating. I also want to say how many people volunteer to help at meals and also help with housekeeping. I am impressed. Needless to say, these folks are not looking for public praise and recognition, but they deserve it.

I was particularly touched that a dad brought his children—a daughter in high school and two boys of grade school age—to help serve an evening meal. I think parents who do that are not only helping a good spiritual cause, but they are also teaching their family to serve others and they lead by example as well. What a good activity for family to share together! I praise all of you volunteers, young and old and all in between.

If we were able to catalogue all the people who serve our parishes, schools and agencies as volunteers, I know the numbers would be truly amazing. Often, this aspect of Christian stewardship—the giving of time and talent—is unsung.

The service offered may be that of helping in the school cafeteria. It may take the form of cleaning the church or chapel. It may be a service of decorating the church for special occasions, or serving as greeters or ushers, or taking up the collection. Some folks faithfully count the Sunday collection. Some make sure that the sacristy, altar linens, albs and servers’ cassocks and surplices are kept in good order. Some folks show up to shovel snow or rake leaves. Some fix meals for the pastor. Some volunteer for youth ministry.

Giving time in prayer is also a wonderful service to the parish. I think of those who faithfully spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament in church or in an adoration chapel. Hundreds of people pray for us in the name of all of us. Some do so in the wee hours of the night.

Who can estimate the good that is done by women’s and men’s clubs in our parishes? How about those who volunteer to help with bingo? Or those who invest countless hours in preparation for the annual social?

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is notable for its volunteer service all around the archdiocese. Some folks volunteer for direct service to the poor. Some work in the warehouses in the background. All play a part in serving Christ in the poor.

The various councils of the Knights of Columbus not only give time and talent to promoting the cause for human life, but also participate in various other projects that benefit the poor. They deserve our support as well. Recently, representatives of the Indiana Knights made a contribution to the Bishop Bruté House of Formation at Marian College in Indianapolis. It is only one example of many gestures of service.

The Serra Club gives a lot of time to promote religious and priestly vocations—most notable is the time they give to prayer for vocations.

In naming groups, I risk leaving out some that are just as notable for their generous gifts of time and talent. I am thinking of all of the parish and archdiocesan committees, commissions and task forces.

I pray frequently and gratefully for all of you—those known and unknown—who serve Christ among us in unsung ways. You are truly gifts for God and for our Church! May God bless you a hundredfold! †


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