Allow yourself to be transformed
Some years ago, I shared with you the story of the service project that was part of my preparation for the sacrament of confirmation. It involved serving as a volunteer at Saginaw Community Hospital, which was, at that time, the place where many of the indigent elderly of Saginaw County found dignified housing and healthcare. What began as a one-summer commitment as a volunteer turned into three years of service. During those years I met some wonderful and fascinating people whose stories and life experiences remain with me to this day.
When I first volunteered, I was met by Adele Mount, the hospital's director of volunteers. Over the course of several days, she trained the group of volunteers of which I was a part, and helped us to become familiar with the hospital, its residents and patients, and the basic roles and responsibilities of hospital volunteers. She then accompanied each of us as we made our first visits. One of the greatest lessons she taught me was that sometimes the best work a volunteer does happens when they just show up to visit a patient. Mrs. Mount, as we volunteers referred to her, made us mindful that many of the hospital's residents had few, if any, surviving family, and because of this they received few regular visitors. This was the role that we volunteers were to fulfill. In most cases, she shared, all we had to do to make a visit a success was to sit with a resident, introduce ourselves and ask them simple questions such as where they were from or where they grew up. In most cases, that was enough to start a conversation that could go on for some time. It was through such conversations that I grew to know a number of residents and their stories. As I look back upon those experiences, I do so with gratitude and see how in many ways they have shaped my priestly ministry. I am also grateful to Mrs. Mount for the lessons she taught and the witness of her steadfast dedication to serving the hospital's residents.
During one of my final visits, as I prepared for my high school graduation, I stopped to thank Mrs. Mount for the help, guidance and inspiration she provided during my time as a volunteer. In our conversation, I shared how important she was to the hospital's residents, staff and volunteers. In turn, Mrs. Mount let me know why she was so committed to her work at the hospital. She shared that at one time she had been one of the hospital's patients, having been in the physical rehabilitation unit for a long period of time as she recovered from a health crisis. Visits by hospital volunteers had been a very uplifting and important part of her stay. With her health restored, she had the opportunity to make sure that others would benefit from the visits and work of the volunteers she would help to train and coordinate.
I often reflect on the lessons which Mrs. Mount taught me and so many other volunteers. Perhaps the most important of those was the lesson of her own life and dedication. She chose to learn from a challenging time in her own life, and allowed that experience to transform her and deepen her commitment and resolve to serve others. Mrs. Mount was a woman of deep faith in God. Her faith gave her strength and trust to allow her life to be transformed. In turn, she helped to support and transform the lives of so many people during her years of service.
As we make our way to Easter, let us pray that God's goodness and grace will continue to transform each of us, allowing us to minister to and to care for one another through the new life that each of us finds in our celebration of the Resurrection. And so our journey in FAITH continues.