Volunteering Can Lead to Finding Your Vocation
by Pat McEntee
Associate Vocation Director
Summer has drifted into fall, and many of you have returned to school. If you are a student, perhaps you are facing the reality that the "real world" is approaching quickly and you may not know exactly what you want to do when you graduate. Perhaps you are realistic enough to understand that it won't be easy once you leave campus for the last time. Perhaps there is a tugging at your heart which indicates that the studies you've worked at diligently for the last four years may not provide the answers or the road map for your future. Maybe you just need some time to sort it all out.
In this scenario, many young men and women have opted to delay joining the "real world" by finding a long-term volunteer opportunity. It's not uncommon for a graduating student to decide to seek out a program—such as the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program—in which he or she can volunteer for a year or maybe even two.
Volunteering offers a tremendous opportunity to discern God's will for your life. Not only do you have the chance to make a positive impact on the world, but many volunteer programs are intentional about living in community, praying in community, serving others, and setting aside time for group and personal reflection. All of these steps can help you discern where God is calling you, leading you to give even more of yourself.
Glenmary's Group Volunteer Program has allowed many Farm managers (long-term volunteers) to give of themselves as they guide and assist dozens of groups eager to spend a week in service to the poor in Appalachia. And the setting at the Glenmary Farm in Eastern Kentucky has also encouraged some of these long-term volunteers to quietly discern that God wants them to give themselves completely to the mission regions of the United States for the rest of their lives.
Because it is so remote, there is a peacefulness at the Glenmary Farm that is difficult to achieve in other places. With no television or cell-phone coverage, the environment really is conducive to being quiet, prayerful and discerning. The Farm allows individuals to listen for God's voice rather than being distracted by external noise.
And the Glenmary Group Volunteer Program's new second site in East Tennessee will offer its own remote, peaceful setting—and will be staffed with managers in the future.
Although it would be ideal if everyone could devote an entire year to volunteering, that isn't the reality for most. But shorter-term volunteering, while listening for God's voice in your life, can be a realistic option in your busy schedule. Everyone has some time to give, whether he or she wants to admit it or not. Volunteering on weekends or one evening a week is a commitment most of us can handle.
Exposing yourself to the needs around you can help lead you to understand that, in small ways, you can make a big difference. In addition, taking time to reflect and be in prayer with God may lead you to something bigger than you ever imagined. For some, the combination of volunteering and prayer has even led to finding their vocations.
For more information about volunteering or vocations, please contact us today.