June 30, 2006

Serra Club essay: Priests and religious wash away loneliness, suffering and hunger

By Abby Feick

Priests, brothers and sisters each have a unique call on their journey toward salvation. They do as Jesus instructed his apostles, “Go, and wash the feet of others,” while on their journey.

By serving their community, religious physically and spiritually wash others’ feet. While doing this, they truly show Jesus’ presence to everyone.

Priests, brothers, and sisters preach God’s word, care for the needy and teach for God’s glory. Religious do exactly as Philippians 2:12 says: “So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been … work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Brothers wash the feet of others by living holy lives and by praying for others. St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian brother, consumed his whole life caring for others.

Giving up his belongings, St. Francis of Assisi worked and dedicated his life to washing the feet of others, through a life of praying, preaching and serving the poor in spirit.

Francis, while adopting a life of physical poverty, helped those who were spiritually poor. St. Francis, who began a religious order with those who joined him, had over five thousand people following his rule by his death.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, located at the St. Augustine Home in Indianapolis, are an excellent example of willingly washing the feet of others. The Little Sisters of the Poor, who care for the elderly everyday, help them physically, mentally and spiritually.

When they bend over to listen, they wash away loneliness. When they gently lift the elderly and talk to them tenderly, they wash away suffering. They wash away hunger when they spoon feed and carefully wipe the chins of those that are helpless.

The Little Sisters of the Poor listen to Christ’s instruction and practice it daily.

The late Msgr. Francis Tuohy, a former pastor of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, was a priest who daily strived to cleanse the feet of others.

He worked his entire life informing others of God’s love for them. Through his own example of joy, Msgr. Tuohy showed others how people are drawn to Christ through the spirit of joy.

He washed the feet of his parishioners by teaching them that the foundation of joy was to always “wish others well.”

Msgr. Tuohy showed people how to always have an open door by welcoming everyone.

Also, he taught his parishioners how to wash the feet of the less fortunate by never refusing the request of visiting missionaries to speak to his parishioners about their needs.

When he humbly heard confessions, Monsignor asked us to wash his feet by saying, “Please, pray for me.”

Jesus’ instruction to wash the feet of others calls us to act humbly and to be holy.

Jesus taught us to lead holy lives because he wants us to be happy.

The ultimate happiness rests in our salvation. Priests, brothers and sisters work out their salvation by being obedient to Christ’s model, which is washing others’ feet.

(Abby Feick is the daughter of Tom and Carol Feick, members of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. Abby just completed the eighth grade at Lumen Christi School in Indianapolis and is the eighth-grade division winner in the 2006 Serra Club Vocations Essay Contest.) †


Local site Links: