By: Matthew K. Duncan
Out of my many experiences as a student at Marian University, one of the things that I really learned about myself as a person is how much joy I find in serving others. As a young boy, I was shaped by my family’s involvement in setting up the tables at the local soup kitchen and my grandfather’s tireless efforts operating the food pantry at his parish’s St. Vincent dePaul chapter.
Although service hours were required of me both as a member of a Catholic high school and participant in our San Damiano Scholars Program, I found myself wanting to do far more than the bare minimum. I remember going to S.T.A.R.R. (Students Taking Active Reflective Roles) the first week of my freshman year and wanting to go back every Friday. I recall the love that I felt from the Navajo in Tohatchi, New Mexico at the 2012 Alternative Spring Break trip. I also found interacting with nature at the Oldenburg Sisters’ Michaela Farm to be highly rewarding and peaceful. These are just a few of the service activities that I was a part of while at Marian
Even as a recent college graduate, I find myself wanting to find ways to serve others. As an incoming law student and aspiring attorney, I want to take on pro bono legal cases in order to be a voice for those who normally cannot afford legal representation. I learned from my time leading S.T.A.R.R. that I really enjoyed mentoring younger individuals as well as those with special needs. I would really like to tutor at-risk kids at some point in this coming year. I want to continue using my gifts and talents to be a voice to those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves.
Through my various service experiences, I have come to believe that the best way to spread the good news is to treat others like Christ. Our service projects and mission trips are a way to bring a modern face to Christianity. In a world of great suffering and strife, showing others love and compassion are one of the most compelling ways to evangelize to others. By helping the marginalized and poor among us, we are able to realize that Christ dwells in every single person. We belong to a rich faith that requires not only belief but action. After all, the scripture tells us that “faith without good works is dead” (James 2: 17). That challenge continues even after one graduates college. How we treat others will in many ways reflect on how people view Christianity as a whole. Are we being loving and joyful or are we being condemning and judgmental? Our Franciscan Sponsorship values and social justice teachings are not limited to the campus of Marian University. We can serve others in Jesus’ name anywhere in the world and at any time.
My service experiences at Marian have taught me every single person has innate dignity and self-worth. I have learned a lot about my gifts and talents as a result of taking part in various service activities. I truly believe that one of the things that sets our student body apart is our commitment to service. I plan on taking this with me as a young professional. It is in giving, not receiving, that we find true joy and satisfaction. I would strongly encourage service to remain a top priority in your life wherever God is leading you.