Up Front and Personal

Saying Thank You to Our Parish Volunteers

by Mary Ann Todzia

If we check Wikipedia for the definition of “volunteering,” we will find the answer as follows:

Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There is no financial gain involved for the individual.

Many are doubtful about volunteering, partially due to the possibility of having to make “too much” of a commitment. Some may feel they don’t have the skillset needed. Others might imagine all is well because we already have bodies in place.

The volunteers you see in all areas of life are there because they have a special heart and a silence within which allows the call of God to be heard. They are no more special than each and every one of us, except for the willingness to give it a try. One could say a quality needed would be to reach out and put any reservation in the hands of God. This is an area where your faith comes into play. How much do you believe? If God is calling, He is giving you an opportunity to experience a wonderful journey, one which can expand the skills you have and help you gain even more. He will guide us and give us the strength needed.

Not Always a Smooth Path

In return, the most exuberant feeling develops. You are working for God and for your brothers and sisters. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Maybe you will experience times when things do not go so smoothly; that’s when God’s testing you. He’s asking you, “How strong are you?” and “How much do you love Me?”

This weekend, we celebrate Lay Ministry Sunday. Let us remember all of the wonderful volunteers serving in our parishes. There are numerous ways in which they serve. From our sports coaches, lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, welcome hostesses, moms and dads sitting at entrances of sport games every weekend, catechists, choirs and leaders, scouts, youth ministers, teachers, church decorators (the Christmas mouse doesn’t come out to do this), ministry leaders and the list continues. Without their service and talents, we would not have the many programs and vibrant parishes in existence. Some are there for a reason, a season or a lifetime. They are the Body of the Church, and Christ is the head.

May we remember to keep in our prayers all of our volunteers everywhere – past, present and future – as the Church needs these special people of God. Please remember to say a heartfelt “Thank you,” as they probably don’t hear it as often as they should.

May God continue to strengthen and call us. In Jesus’ words, “Come, follow me.”[hr] Mary Ann Todzia is a graduate of the Pastoral Institute’s Lay Leadership Program. She was commissioned in May, 2012, and serves as coordinator of Matthew’s Mission, an evangelization ministry at Transfiguration and St. Stanislaus Kostka parishes, Maspeth.