Friday, May 23, 2008

Augustinian Volunteers: A Desire to Serve

The following is a talk I gave at one of the St. Rita Novena masses about the Augustinian Volunteer program. Enjoy reading and please let encourage anyone you know to a year of service:

The Augustinian Volunteers have sites in Bronx, New York, Chicago, Illinois, Lawrence, MA, which is outside of Boston, and San Diego, CA. Two international sites in Peru and South Africa. Our headquarters is in Philadelphia, PA in the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova.

As Augustinian Volunteers we are no different than any other volunteer program with the service we perform. We serve others in various sites including schools as teachers, teacher's aids, campus ministers, coaches, mentors, after school programs, in youth ministry, social services (such as serving in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, delivering food, teaching English as a Second Language, working in immigration centers) and various other locations.

If you were to ask us for the reasons why we decided to volunteer, we would say reasons like giving back, or to serve others, or to learn more about ourselves, or that we had this desire to serve for a year. All reasons which reveal the truth about being Christian. As Pope Benedict says, "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction." It is in the interactions we have this year that we become able to better understand and to know ourselves. Whether its helping a 13 year old mother pay for school, teaching a student how to solve a problem, being with a student who just lost a parent, or teaching the fundamentals of a sport, we come to recognize who we are as Christians.

What makes the Augustinian Volunteer program so unique is its spirit in the Augustinian tradition. A tradition built upon the practice of living in community. Together, the six of us live in a house in the south side of Chicago. There we share in each other's faith, hope, affections, ideals, feelings, thoughts, activities, responsibilities, failures, and praises. Together we live with the foundation of one mind and one heart intent upon God in all that we do. Furthermore, our community is supported by the Augustinian Community here at the St. Rita monastery. Together with the Augustinian community, the volunteer community, and the respective work sites, it is hoped that as the volunteer helps the lives of others that their lives may be enriched as well.

We all can truly agree that although there has been many challenges and obstacles that have come into our lives this year, it has been the experiences with each other and sharing in the lives of each other that has allowed us to conquer individual and communal challenges.

The Augustinian Volunteers accept men and women between the ages of 21 and 29 years of age with a college degree or equivalent work experience. Volunteers should be committed to a Christian lifestyle, have the ability to live with others in a community-like settings and possess a desire to serve others. A desire which reflects St. Augustine's own restlessness to know God.

If you or someone you know has a desire to serve others in a powerful and rewarding way, please encourage them to learn more about the possibility of volunteering for a year with the Augustinian Volunteers. Some people say that volunteering is taking a year off from your life and the real world. Well there is nothing more real about the experiences we have had this year and to come to know who we really are. So please encourage young people you know to look into the Augustinian Volunteers. In tonight's bulletin there is a website address for more information and how to apply. Myself and the other volunteers will be available after mass tonight if you would like to talk to any of us about our experiences. Thank you, and may God continue to bless the Augustinians, both religious and lay people in the work they do.

To learn more about the Augustinian Volunteers please visit

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