A Calling to be Present

Mercy Volunteer, Lauren Scheunemann (center), with Detroit Cristo Rey High School senior students, Valeria (left) and Steph (right), at the freshmen retreat.
Mercy Volunteer, Lauren Scheunemann (center), with Detroit Cristo Rey High School senior students, Valeria (left) and Steph (right), at the freshmen retreat.
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By Mercy Volunteer Lauren Scheunemann, Detroit, Michigan

Adapted with permission from Mercy Volunteer Corps

When I was discerning what to do after I graduated from college, there was truly no question as to whether or not I wanted to commit to a year of service, it was just a matter of where and with what program. After my application and interview process with Mercy Volunteer Corps (MVC), it was clear to me this is where I belonged. MVC is a family of volunteers and staff who are all committed to answering the cries of social injustice through faith, service and a desire to be immersed in solidarity with community.

At my service site, Detroit Cristo Rey High School in Detroit, Michigan, I am surrounded by staff and students who have adopted me into their community and who are a constant source of wonder to me. I work in the Campus Ministry office, so I have the unique opportunity to interact with all the students through retreats, prayer services, extracurricular clubs and service projects. Each morning I walk in the door and I look forward to the day ahead, as each day is filled with different conversations or experiences than the previous. I am not saying that each day is perfect or easy, but each day is most certainly worth it. Working at a school, you think you would be the one teaching the students, but the students are in fact the ones teaching me. That is how I know I am doing this year “right.”

If I have learned anything so far about the purpose of a year of service, it is that this is not a time for you to lead, but a time for you to follow and just be. It is a time for you to immerse yourself in the community that you have been given and that surrounds you, to embrace the uncomfortable and the challenges without question or hesitation. Walk next to and with those you are serving, not in front of them. The more you open your heart and your ears, the more you will see the beauty in the authenticity in the relationships that are being formed.

These relationships are important not only at your service site, but within your community as well. One of the most gratifying feelings is knowing that at the end of a rough day or your best day, you have a community to go home to that shares your understanding of what you are going through or what you are experiencing. Your community grants you a sense of mutuality and an immense amount of support that is not found just anywhere.

A year of service grants an incredible opportunity to journey alongside others who have the same passion, desire, and values as you to make a difference and fight for social injustice. While you may not change the world, you will definitely change your own life through the interactions and experiences within your service city, site, and community.

See the original blog post on Mercy Volunteer Corps’ website.