A Franciscan Understanding of Service
Have you ever wondered why we, as human beings, have a natural tendency to help others, especially those in need? From a Christian and Franciscan perspective God created us with an innate desire to give of ourselves, to share our gifts, talents and skills for the benefit of others, and to make a difference in each other's lives. To serve others is as natural as breathing for a human being. It is one of the characteristics that distinguish human beings from the rest of the animal world. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that all the various clubs, organizations, Greek Fraternities and Sororities at Quincy University have a service component.
Service is a fundamental value. It is when we reach out to others that we receive so much in return. In the Peace Prayer we pray that "it is in giving that we receive." St. Francis of Assisi came to this realization through his personal encounter with lepers, whom he would avoid at all costs as a young man. Then one day, as he was riding his horse through the Umbrian Valley, he came upon a leper. Instead of shunning the leper, he dismounted his horse, placed a coin in the leper's hand and embraced him. This experience radically changed Francis' life. At the end of his life he wrote in his Testament: "…God led me among them (lepers) and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness."
Franciscan Service involves not only giving but also receiving. It invites one not only to touch another person in their need but also to open oneself to being touched by the other. This kind of encounter has the potential to change one's life. Franciscan Service involves doing something concrete for someone while at the same time exemplifying a quality of being present to the person. This aspect of Franciscan Service is known as a ministry of presence. Listening to another person's story is as important as the assistance one offers. Quincy University students and alumni, who have participated in the University's outreach programs and service trips, have testified how they were changed. Just visit Quincy University's volunteer opportunities to learn how you can make a difference.
Quincy University offers a person the opportunity to experience and to witness to Franciscan service, whether on the campus or off the campus. It is always a choice that one makes. If one makes the choice, one will not regret the experience. In fact it may have a profound impact on one's life. One will experience firsthand that "it is in giving that we receive." One will also discover in the process that when one looks into the eyes of the other, one will see his (her) brother or sister.
Peace and all good!
Father John Doctor, OFM
Vice President for Mission and Ministry