By Patricia Morgan -Director of the Change A Heart Franciscan Volunteer Program – A Ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities located in Pittsburgh, PA
Our sisters in Pittsburgh celebrated in prayer the Sending Forth of the 2018-19 Change A Heart volunteers on Sunday, July 21st in the new Chapel at The Waters. Albert Garcia, Kaitlyn Keffler and Tony Thieman found themselves surrounded by many blessings and warm wishes as they take the next steps in their journey of serving God — continuing their education or going back into the work force. We are grateful for their service and for representing the Franciscan charism as they served in Pittsburgh and its neighborhoods. Each volunteer spoke about the impact CAH had on their personal and spiritual growth. Below are excerpts from their reflections on their year:
“There is something special when you love someone just the way they are without the intentions of changing them or molding them into who you want them to be. There is something about love when a person really feels it, it can stir something in them that makes them want to change more into the puzzle piece God made them to be.” From Tony’s reflection. He served at Cribs for Kids.
“This year of service taught me a lot about myself and the importance of looking at my life and those things I value in a more profound way. I was able to experience and see those that struggle and have no voice. I was able to find a way to care for their needs as well advocate for them.” From Al’s reflection. He served at Casa San Jose.
“I have learned to ignore stigmas about the poor because, ultimately, they’re just regular people who happen to have a set of problems or circumstances that do not align with the societal norms. I have learned that it is critical to see past the label of ‘poor’ or ‘homeless’ and work to truly understand the whole person, if that is something that the person desires. Neglecting to see past these labels would have prevented me from meeting some of the most interesting people I have come to know. Listening to their stories with judgment would have stopped me from hearing hilarious jokes, heartbreaking stories, and sharing genuine moments with people. Being too aware of the often-gritty settings of these meetings — under bridges, bus stops, shelters — would have caused me to overlook the grit and resilience of this population. If I had believed that knowing a person was ‘poor’ or ‘homeless’ meant I knew him or her, I would have not had my heart changed by so many colorful, special, wonderful people.” From Kaitlyn’s reflection. She served at Pittsburgh Mercy, Operation Safety Net.
We wish them well and thank them as they now become a part of the 20-year legacy of Change A Heart!
Photo caption: Al, Kaitlyn, and Tony