My older children’s high school and college experiences have been marked by many, many opportunities for community service. From Habitat to AIDS Outreach to Special Olympics to soup kitchens and more, both the Big Kids have made it a point to find ways to help others.
Some of my older son’s friends have gone on to spend a year doing volunteer work. Some of them volunteer through the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry (FVM) program, which ministers locally in Philadelphia and Camden at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and urban parishes.
Living & Serving in the Way of St. Francis is a book of reflections by and for Franciscan volunteers. Edited by Julie McElmurry, this book is full of the lived experiences of these volunteers. Each short chapter is introduced by a quote from St. Francis’ Testament and ends with two reflection questions, perfect for prayer and journaling. In the middle, there is a reflection by one of the volunteers, and these reflections are as different as the individual volunteers themselves and the situation in which they serve. There are stories, meditations on their own faith and motivation for service, and memories shared.
Some of these short (2 pages or less) reflections left me wanting more from the author. Collectively, they reminded me, as a mom, that youthful idealism can lead to great things–and that I want to keep encouraging my children to find ways to serve others.
My older son looks forward to reading this book next, so he can see what his friends had to say about their time as FVMs, some ministering in the very soup kitchen where my son volunteered several hours per week during his years in college.
This book would be a valuable prayer companion to a young would-be volunteer. I’d like my daughter to read it before she heads to Appalachia for a week-long volunteer experience this summer. It should be a part of any Catholic campus ministry’s library of resources.
Learn more about this book at FranciscanPassages.org.
If you’re interested in purchasing this book, consider stopping in at your local Catholic bookstore first. It’s also available online, and if you use my Amazon link, Franciscanmom.com gets a small percentage of the sales.