When I joined the Augustinian Volunteers, I was really unsure what a “year of service” would look like. I was hoping to feel like everything I was doing throughout the whole year was in service, to really be there for the students and help the school in any way I could. But during the first weeks and months of my time at Villanova Prep, I felt as if I were just at a normal job and honestly, I was letdown. With classes being online, I had little to no interaction with the students and didn’t feel as if I was contributing much to the larger school community. I started to wonder “Am I even helping anyone?”
During the second month of my AV year, Villanova put on a virtual Freshman Retreat. We had worked on this for weeks: planning, prepping, and trying to work out all the details and technical issues. When the day finally arrived, I felt confident that the retreat would go really well. But, of course, it went horribly. There were so many hiccups: issues on Zoom, distracted students, internet problems. I felt horrible, like none of the students got anything out of the retreat and that I had failed as a volunteer.
One of my co-workers said to me, “It doesn’t matter if you reached all of the kids or only one of them. You never know how this experience might impact them later in life.” I thought, “She is right.” This isn’t about me feeling like I had connected and gotten through to every single student at Villanova, it’s about me humbly serving this community and God, offering my work up to Him so that he can bring fruit from it.
As the year has continued, I have tried to shift my mindset of service, to look at all things that I do as a form of service. From doing the chores in our community, to staying after mass to help disinfect, and even just being there to listen to someone who needs it. I have tried to adopt a “heart of service”, to do my daily tasks out of love for those in my life, not needing to see the fruits of my labor, only needing to offer my work to God and know that nothing that is given to the Father is ever wasted.
Ventura, CA 2020-2021