"Retreating in New York"

Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. I must tell you how proud I am of myself. I have survived the snowiest winter that Minnesota has had in four years. Being from Arizona, to finally see sunshine and snow melt away was definitely a pick-me-up. I did learn an important driving skill these long winter months. For those of you who have never driven in snowy conditions, the best advice I can give you on the first few attempt is to drive slowly and carefully, and ignore all the honking horns around you.

Speaking of honking your own horn, Tiffany, one of my fellow volunteers, and I enjoyed watching last summer's television hit "The Restaurant," on NBC. Rocco DiSpirito was a chef who opened a restaurant in six weeks. Knowing that our Lasallian Volunteer mid-year retreat was being held in New York in late January, we made reservations. Nine of us dined at "Rocco's on 22nd," where we ate Italian food and met Nicolina DiSpirito, aka Mama. We received autographed menus, took pictures, and laughed through a fun-filled night.

Our New York gathering was one our volunteer retreats that take place three times a year. This year, there are 33 Lasallian volunteers stationed throughout the country, and meeting together is a really great way to see other communities and expand our knowledge of the United States. The work we do ranges from teacher to youth minister, tutor, and social worker. We go where communities are in need of help, and our specific tasks are determined by what those communities request from the Lasallian Volunteers as an organization. Our retreat includes training as well as time to share experiences and ideas and to pray for one another and the world. We also just have fun, which strengthens our friendships and our support system.

In New York, our friendships again were renewed and deepened as we spent time together in reflection and comradeship. Each of us brought with us tools we have learned in our own communities. I identified those tools as challenge, affirmation, respect, and encouragement. We shared the challenges we faced and drew from each other new ideas for action. We affirmed the importance of our value to the groups we serve and the friendships that we have with each other and our communities. We also shared and showed respect for the feelings and wishes of each other and those that we serve. Finally, we talked about the importance of encouragement through compliments as well as of the good deeds we have done in our communities and with each other.

Whether it is through the Lasallian Volunteer way of life or in your own daily life, we have all been called to serve and develop friendships through caring for a greater community. My parents had an expression when I was growing up: "If you see a friend in need, be a friend in deed." As is written in Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man." Do any of your friendships sharpen you?

To learn more about the Lasallian Volunteer program, visit http://www.cbconf.org.

Previous Diary Entries

* "The Stuff of Lasallian Community Living" - Winter 2004
* "Lessons at Homecoming" - Fall 2003
* "From Moraga to Minneapolis" - Summer 2003

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