MADISON -- As Lent begins, we again focus on the three pillars of the Lenten journey: fasting, praying, and almsgiving.
Even before I cared or knew much about fasting and prayer, I understood the necessity of assisting those in need, including material donations or acts of service. I felt compelled to serve others and that eventually taught me how to serve God and discover His will and plan for my life.
Called to serve the needy
Throughout Scripture we are called to serve the needy in charity. In the book of James we are told, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was involved in and benefited from service work and a variety of other programs at St. Paul’s University Catholic Center. It is because of these experiences that I am now an intern at St. Paul’s.
I work to coordinate service events for students, so that they too can learn to give of themselves through service and experience the realities of both spiritual and physical poverty.
St. Paul's seeks
||St. Paul’s is always interested in partnering with local organizations seeking volunteers to serve the community. If you work with an organization that would like the involvement of energetic, passionate college students, contact Lindsey at
with details about the needs of your organization.
Service with a purpose
In my serving, I have not always been blessed with seeing the fruits of my labor. In the Christian life, sometimes our acts of charity go unnoticed or are even rejected.
At different times, I have been yelled at while serving at a food pantry, I’ve built houses for people who I’ll never meet, and I’ve watched my efforts to create sustainable development projects in Ghana fail.
All of these experiences have taught me that there is a better reason to serve than even the happiness it can bring you or the praise you may receive. That reason is Christ. If we are able to offer our service and all of our actions to Him first and foremost, all of our service will have a purpose.
Sometimes we may be blessed to see a positive effect from our good works. Yet even when it is not visible, God can use our offering to sanctify us. I have learned to offer every prepared meal, every folded piece of clothing, and even every hammered fingernail to Him.
When we include Him in our service, not only will He bless our work, but He will be present in us to the people we serve and we will become more like Christ.
There are many programs at St. Paul’s which offer students opportunities to know, to love, and to serve Jesus Christ. In doing so they are given the tools to address spiritual poverty in our society and how to share the love of Christ with others in tangible ways.
St. Paul’s expands programs
This year at St. Paul’s, the staff and students have put an even greater emphasis on serving those with material needs in the Madison community.
Throughout the 2011 to 2012 academic year so far, St. Paul’s has promoted nine winter and spring break service trips and five to six local service events each month. There are currently 251 students involved in regular, local service.
Through service, students hear Christ calling them to a deeper life with Him, and they begin or continue their faith journey by serving and offering their works to Him.
Lindsey Hoppenjan is a pastoral intern at St. Paul’s University Catholic Center in Madison. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010 and will begin a master’s program in counseling psychology in the fall of 2012.