It was the first of only two experiences that I have ever had thus far volunteering with Catholic Charities Disability Services & Ministries Retreats for adults with disabilities. I sat in a room of about 8-10 people, all of whom I had just recently been acquainted with for the very first time. I watched as another volunteer named Mae led a reflection on the act of forgiveness – a piece that fit in nicely just before penance. Mae had brought in what appeared to be a jar of water, which was meant to represent our souls as the way they are after we are baptized. She then went on to explain how throughout the course of our lives, we commit disgraceful acts that cloud our souls, perhaps by failing to be truthful to a friend or faithful to a family member. As Mae explained this concept, she dripped in food coloring to demonstrate the way our souls look when we engage in such behaviors. As the dye dripped into the jar of clear liquid, clouding it as sins tend to cloud our souls, I took a minute to look around the room and see the reactions of the others around me; they all were amazed. I smiled to myself as Mae went on to explain how penance is a way we can clean our souls, adding another liquid to the jar which eliminated the tint that the food coloring had spread.
One of the things that I most appreciated about Mae’s reflection on penance was the flavor of personality that was expressed by each retreat participant after her talk. Donna, for example, reacted in a happy and high-spirited manner, commenting on how nice the talk was and expressing how excited she was to be one of the first ones to go to confession. In these first moments, I knew that some way, somehow, I could fit in here. I learned quickly after that some way, some how, everyone can (and that I did…quite quickly)! The personalities and flare that participants bring to retreats is an unsurpassed experience. Each participant, unique in their personalities, reactions, hobbies, and thoughts, offers an endearing and insightful perspective on issues of faith that cannot be expressed anywhere else. In addition of these unique qualities, retreat participants are inclined to offer others a universal feeling of acceptance to anyone who comes into contact with the retreats that are offered, providing an unwavering warmth and acceptance without question or fail.
There is a quote: “Volunteers are love in motion!” ~Unknown
Christ asked us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:31) – at Cleveland Catholic Charities, we rely on the generosity, kindness, and love of hundreds of volunteers. They are “love in motion” – they are the embodiment of Christ’s message. They give selflessly and complement our mission and purpose flawlessly.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with Cleveland Catholic Charities, please click here to learn more.