Joyful Service Second Nature for Badger Catholics

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

What impressed PHJC Volunteer co-director Sister Connie Bach most about the Badger Catholic group of volunteers, who spent a week in January at The Center at Donaldson, is their joyful service, deep faith and their ability to articulate their faith. “They’re awesome,” Connie said. “They’re very mature, faith-filled and collaborative.” The joyful spirit of the Sisters and residents impressed the students, too. “Serving is easy when they’re so joyful and appreciative,” said junior nursing major Mary Shanabarger as she and fellow volunteers helped sort compact discs into their proper cases with Sister Michelle Dermody at Catherine’s Cottage. “I have Elvis,” Mary laughed as she sorted the discs. “He’s left the building,” retorted Sister Michelle as everyone erupted in laughter.

Indeed, faith in action is not something that eludes this group or the University of Wisconsin. “Service is huge,” said sophomore Heidi Zamzow. “It’s a great way of spreading God’s love.” Volunteer Noah Joseph, a sophomore biology major, agreed. “I could see it right when I came to campus. There’s lots of service work, and a lot of groups to volunteer with. When you serve, it’s an acknowledgement that everyone was made to be together and work together. It makes a community,” said Noah as he and Catherine’s Cottage homemaker Bonnie Halsey baked cookies for the group’s afternoon snacks together. Elsewhere in the Cottage, Ecological Relationships Director Adam Thada and volunteers replaced all the lightbulbs with newer, LED ones.

Badger Catholic group leader Anna Janke found the PHJC Volunteers website through the Catholic Volunteer Network and realized this was something the group could do over winter break. The PHJC Mission and the variety of ministries on campus impressed Anna. “There’s lots of different ministries here, and we’re also able to serve on a deeper level here,” Anna noted. Variety indeed. The group arrived on a Sunday evening and began their week at MoonTree Studios. They devoted the rest of the week to the Sisters and residents at Catherine Kasper Home, Maria Center, children at The Nazareth Home, and with Sam Tepes in the greenhouse. The week wasn’t all work and no play, though.

On the wall outside the Cenacle Dining room, the students and Sisters created a mural, which they added to all week. As the week progressed, their impressions delighted the Sisters, residents and co-workers alike. Images of the deer eating from the birdfeeder at MoonTree, Sister Michelle dancing, and their delight in Maria Center resident Otho Murphy, who was on the winning Trivia team with several young ladies, came to life in the colorful paintings.

The students, Sisters, and residents wrapped up the week with an ice cream social and sing-along in Cana Hall on Friday afternoon. As they ate ice cream and sang along to Amazing Grace and John Lennon’s Imagine, Anna embraced Maria Center resident Pauline Pearson as the pair swayed and sang. “What I’ll take away from this experience is joy. The joy to serve wherever God takes us, and that no task, no matter how small, is unimportant,” Anna said. Senior Nick Visser, a math and science major, also gained perspective during the week. “To be able to serve and find time for reflection through my own prayer has made me think about my own vocation and how I can better serve,” he said.