I will be completely honest. There are days when working at CCDOK is overwhelming. Days when every client’s challenges seem overwhelming, days when the mountains of paperwork seem ready to bury us, and days when the best intentions just aren’t enough. Those are the days when I crawl back to my office, get on my knees, and ask God why I am doing what I am doing.
Last night the Board of Catholic Charities, the Board of Baraga Manor Apartments, and the Board of the Catholic Family Services’ Non-Profit Housing Corporation came together for their annual “Mission Meeting.” We were blessed to be joined by our own Bishop Bradley and the room was filled with people who had committed — over many years — to supporting the work these organizations do. Some of the items we discussed and voted on were seemingly mundane — capital budgets, auditing firms, and corporate structures. In the midst of all the “everyday” work, however, we were given a chance to come together and focus on the heart of the agency, our Mission, and why we work so hard to do the work we do.
I have an administrative job — I’m the person who sits behind the scenes and manipulates the numbers and deals with all the minutia of grants and contracts and government. It is my job to spend a lot of time tending to the “trees” and I seldom get to step back and think about the “forest” we are cultivating through the work we do. Sitting in that room, hearing the stories of hope and change and possibility, I was refreshed and renewed. I was able to see, once again, how the work I do contributes to something so much larger. I am, myself, a “tree” in the huge “forest” of staff and volunteers and clients and donors that comprise CCDOK and our larger community . . . but I am a “tree “who can make a difference. Indeed, I am called to do so daily by God. I would contend that you are a “tree” too — and that you are called to tend the beautiful “forest” that surrounds you daily. You are called to make a difference.
This morning, walking into the office, I took a moment to look at each office door — thinking of the countless clients who had walked through each in crisis . . . and the caring, compassionate services they had received there. I thought of each staff person as I passed his or her office and considered their dedication and commitment to their clients. Finally, I thought about the hundreds of volunteers and donors and supporters who had passed through the building over the years, joining these staff and these clients to bring about positive changes in the lives of individuals, families, and our greater community. Suddenly the mountains of paperwork didn’t seem quite so large — at least not in comparison to the hearts and lives that have been changed.
I recently had the blessing to stumble across the encyclical Letter “Caritas In veritate” written by Pope Benedict. In my years of work at Catholic Charities I have never seen a more beautiful or accurate summation of why we do the work we do. I leave you with his words and encourage you to join us in this Mission, to allow your faith to come alive . . . to be courageous and generous and share the Truth in love. Living “Charity in Truth” helps you grow closer to God . . . after all, it’s what you were made to do.
5. Charity is love received and given. It is “grace” (cháris). Its source is the wellspring of the Father’s love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Love comes down to us from the Son. It is creative love, through which we have our being; it is redemptive love, through which we are recreated. Love is revealed and made present by Christ (cf. Jn 13:1) and “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5). As the objects of God’s love, men and women become subjects of charity, they are called to make themselves instruments of grace, so as to pour forth God’s charity and to weave networks of charity.