May 10, 2024

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Together, our ocean of ripples can change the world—and impact our lives

Kimberly PohoveyI have been thinking a lot about ripples lately. We’ve all seen images of a stone being tossed in the water which causes a “ripple effect” of waves in the surrounding water. The implication is that we have no idea what effect one action can have on others or the world.

Sometimes ripple effects are massive, such as when war breaks out and it spills into other countries or causes catastrophic humanitarian impacts. But I think most of the time, ripples are felt in smaller ways—most of the time unrecognized by the people involved.

In my work at the archdiocese, I have the privilege of working with individuals who have established funds to provide scholarships. Many times, when a person creates such a fund, it is done so to honor or memorialize a loved one. In honoring someone’s life, they cause ripple effects in the lives of the recipients of these generous scholarships.

Twenty-three years ago, after our 3-month old son died of sudden infant death syndrome, my husband and I created a scholarship fund to provide Catholic elementary school tuition assistance at the parish we attended at the time. Not only was it a wonderful way to keep the spirit of our little Matthew alive, but also it was unbelievably cathartic for us to know his short life had meaning in this world. I love thinking about all the ways these young people’s lives have been touched by being able to continue their Catholic education, and it’s heartwarming to know each of them are causing ripple effects in their respective lives and vocations.

I think that’s why I have a heart for working with donors who want to create similar funds. When I say it is a privilege, I really mean it. They all impact me far more than I impact them.

When I contemplate “ripples,” two families come to mind. One family lost an adult child to gun violence. While most might be bitter or resentful, this family instead listened to God’s call to make a difference.

They formed a foundation which funds a variety of initiatives to impact the inner-city Indianapolis community—including trying to stem gun violence and by providing scholarships for underprivileged youth to receive a Catholic education. In a short time, they are making ripples not only in the lives of young people receiving scholarships, but also the greater community who benefit from their message of peace as a solution.

Another family lost their adult daughter while she was serving on a mission trip in Mexico. They decided to create scholarships for young people to afford the cost of their first mission trip experience.

At a recent reception with this year’s 20 scholarship recipients, I couldn’t help but see each young person as a ripple. Their lives will undoubtedly be positively impacted by their mission experience, but they too will impact the lives of all those they will encounter in a variety of countries. Then, who knows how many more people’s lives will experience the ripple.

Conversely, when a scholarship recipient experiences a personal encounter with Christ through serving others, they are changed. In the case of a mission trip, young people impact the underserved community they visit. But they also return from the trip rejuvenated in their faith and love for humankind, which leads them to seek more ways to serve. Yet more ripples form.

Because all mankind is connected, instead of seeing one stone forming ripples in a pond, I see an entire ocean of ripples that form a beautifully intricate web.

Personally, I might only be able to create one ripple, but together, our ripples can change the world.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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