For many college students, spring break is a time to head to the coast, forget all troubles of papers and of grades, and become beach bums for a week. Some take a camping trip as a good substitute, or a trip to the city to see the sites. Spring break should be relaxing and exciting, a change of pace from the usual daily grind.
So how about a trip to volunteer with a bunch of nuns who take teach kids and care for the elderly?
Now, that may not sound like your typical spring break, but that’s exactly what two groups of college kids decided to do this year, one from Northern Arizona University, the other from Franciscan University of Steubenville. These beautiful witnesses of God’s selfless love gave up their spring “break” to do spring service instead, volunteering whole-heartedly in our schools, assisted-living, and skilled-nursing facilities. They helped tutor the children, clean out long forgotten storage rooms, and even scrape forty year old paint off our Santa Teresita wall and put on a fresh coat. These were labors of pure love, and not easy at that. They came home, night after night, tired but joyful, ready to shower and get to bed early in preparation for the early wake up call: each morning they attended our 6:15 AM Mass before heading out to serve. For any of us (especially college students!), having a week like that definitely amounts to heroic virtue!
All of us here at Santa Teresita were enlivened and encouraged in our own daily service by seeing the joy and enthusiasm of these young people. As Sr. Isabelle, our volunteer coordinator here at Santa Teresita, put it: “They brought us new life! We’re forever grateful! When I think of them, a big smile appears on my face and I feel comfort and relief. They brought us such joy by their presence and really lifted the cross off of our shoulders by their loving service.”
May God reward you, students of Northern Arizona and Franciscan Universities, for your love and service. We can’t wait to see you next year!