One of the greatest gifts of my AV year has been the presence of God in my life. Each and every day, I feel God’s Love through other people who I encounter. One of the roles of my position is to help coordinate and organize grade school retreats, where about 400 kids from local grammar schools come to my high school to develop their relationship with God. Weeks of preparation are required for arranging for each retreat through countless phone calls with the school principals, making hundreds of copies of handouts that the students use, as well as working with Father Tom to make sure all of the loose ends are tied for the retreat. The actual days of the retreats are extremely busy, so much so that I come to the school an hour early to prepare the chapel and get everything in place. On the retreat days, I am the main point person for everyone on the retreat, and I spend a lot of time making sure everyone is comfortable. I do this all while continuing my daily duties, which include leading morning prayer, helping out in the cafeteria during each lunch period, working on community service opportunities for the high school students, and collecting money for our Peruvian Missions. I essentially had to be in multiple places at the same time and this scared me- I was extremely overwhelmed and prayed to God for his help.
Throughout the day, I can genuinely say that I saw God at work through my colleagues. My fellow staff members from nearly every department at the school: admissions, maintenance, main office, development always approached me and asked how they could help. I was able to guide them to do some of the numerous jobs that were expected of me. As the day passed on, we were able to deliver a great experience for the grammar school kids and it was a huge success, so much so that all of the teachers and students kept on saying how they cannot wait to come back next year! As I went to sleep that night, I thanked God, because He was in the hallways with me that day, He was in the other staff members who didn’t hesitate to go out of their daily tasks to help me. Even now, I feel as though each of the workers were not guided by me, but rather by the Holy Spirit, without it, none of what transpired on that Thursday would have happened.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned this year is to let the Holy Spirit guide me in everything I do. At first I was extremely overwhelmed with all of my jobs and I felt as though I was not really helping anyone, then I let the Holy Spirit into my life. Since then, I have never had a bad moment because I know that every moment I encounter this year is bigger than me, so I just need to be a helping hand for everyone.
Another role I have in my position involves bringing a group of students to a local Homeless shelter to serve them a warm meal every Wednesday evening. This has quickly became one of the highlights of my week, and I truly look forward to serving those in need with my students. It gives me a great opportunity let the Rita students discover and foster a fire to serve others. The homeless shelter requires each guest to register with them and gives them a card, which also helps them get federal benefits such as food stamps. The homeless guests will wait up to 10 hours in cold temperatures to receive a meal. I really make it a point of emphasis to talk to each and every person while I am serving them their meals. These people have become my friends so much so that before they leave, they will always come up and give me a hug and say “ Thanks again, I’ll see you next week Rory!” As Thanksgiving came around, I never even hesitated to spend Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day at the homeless shelter. The homeless shelter is a place where I firmly believe I am interacting with God every time I am there, especially through the power of conversation; furthermore, I believe that God is talking to me through my guys at the homeless shelter. The conversations I have with them are tremendous and full of substance. An example includes when I was talking to Terry, a man in his early fifties who has three kids and is homeless. On that certain day, I was stressed out about some earlier events that occurred in the day. I asked him what frustrates him on a daily basis, and that is when he hit me with a simple answer. He said, “Nothing, Rory, nothing anyone does frustrates me because I trust in my faith with God.” He began to say, there are plenty of people who have more luxuries than him, such as a home, money, cars, etc, but they are not as joyful as him. He summarized this with a quote from the Bible that I am very familiar with: “not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, fulfill the lusts thereof.” This comes from Romans 13:13-14 and is the line that Augustine picked up and read and led to his repentance with God. I am someone who doesn't really believe in coincidences, especially when seeking God’s Grace. What are the chances that Terry, a middle aged homeless man, would share the exact Bible verse that developed Augustines faith? If Augustine never read that verse, there would be no Augustinian Volunteer Program and I would be in a different job right now. This is no coincidence, this is God at work.
My year has been full of moments like these, I like to label them as Spiritual Pharmacy moments because if think about it, you go to the pharmacy when you are not in good health to obtain medicine that will help you get healthy. In a similar sense, these powerful spiritual moments act as some sort of “medicine” to help enhance my relationship with God. More so, these moments inspire me to wake up every morning with a smile on my face and seek to encounter as many people as I can during the day. I am a firm believer that everyone needs to know they are loved. I am so blessed to have these Spiritual Pharmacy moments which make me feel God’s Unconditional Love- love in its highest form. As a result, I understand this is the ultimate Gift of God, and it is my duty to share God’s Unconditional Love with everyone I encounter not just during this year of service, but during each and every moment of my life.
Chicago, IL 2014-2015