I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I began my discernment process in joining the Augustinian Volunteers a year ago. At the time, I had been out of college for the last three years and had been searching for a life-giving career. Something that would leave me feeling grateful and appreciative of what I do. I had everything I could ask for in my life back home in San Diego. I had a job that paid the bills and other luxuries. I was in the presence of my loving family and friends who were always with me in times of joy and sorrow. As I reflect on the life I left behind, my life was close to perfect. But there was one thing that left me feeling empty inside. The jobs I had did not give me the satisfaction I was looking for. I found myself wanting more. I knew one of the things I enjoyed doing in my spare time back home was serving in various ministries. This was the only thing that gave me the sense of fulfillment I was looking for.
When the service year began, I was complaining about the new life I had committed myself to. I would complain about having to take public transportation as I struggled to adjust to the city life and find my way to my service sites. As well as complain about the budget that my community and I operate within. I had a conversation about this with my supervisor, Lacie. She made me realize that these small things can mean a lot to most people who are less fortunate, and that I should appreciate and be grateful for having access to the things that we are provided with. Lacie challenged me to be cognizant of those whom I encounter in South Philadelphia.
An unexpected encounter I had during my time at the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor, was meeting some of the ladies that work at St. Edmond’s Church. One day I came to work an hour early and heard people in the kitchen. I went in to say hello and saw Ms. Eileen and Ms. Joyce. Both were so kind and invited me to have coffee with them. It was during this time that I came to realize I found one of the things I have been looking for, a spiritual companion. Soon I started going to work extra early so I can spend more time, get to know and attend mass with Ms. Eileen, Ms. Joyce, and Ms. Rita.
While pondering upon my time with these ladies, I realized that I have learned one of the most important aspects of being an Augustinian Volunteer: to live and appreciate the simple things in life. Both Ms. Eileen and Ms. Joyce have been with St. Edmond’s for about 45 years and Ms. Rita for about 23 years. This is something that I most admire about them because they are very passionate about what they do.
Through these encounters, my perspective in life has changed in ways that I did not expect. I have learned that I need to appreciate the simple things in life rather than always wanting more material success. And I will continue to remind myself that none of these things have a drop of merit in the Kingdom of God.
Philadelphia, PA 2020-2021