Archive for September, 2011

Time is sure flying by here. It has been nearly one month since I arrived in Syracuse. Everything feels like seems different yet feels the same. Does that make sense? I suppose when you move to a new place, even just for a year those kind of feelings are very normal. The nostalgia is starting to wear off and give way to a normal daily routine. This is great feeling to have because it makes me feel like I am mastering my new life. However, even as the routine settles in I realize that there remains so much to discover and share some of that in this blog. So do not worry about boring blog posts!

This week I had the great opportunity to work more at Northside Ministries which houses the free legal and medical clinics. Tuesday I worked at the legal clinic helping to get people arranged so the lawyers could set down with each person to counsel them on their issues. Let me tell you, there were many different types of issues I heard. I had the opportunity to work the phones and be an advocate for a person who called seeking legal advice. I felt like a runner in law firm going back and forth. Not sure I have a future as a lawyer but the day left me with a new found understanding of the lack of accessibility to lawyers and legal support for many people.

On the other side of the building I took on the challenge of meeting the sandwich quota at the food pantry. Never did I imagine I would work closely with food. Well after coming home slicing/cutting 80 pounds of turkey and smelling like a walking garlic stick you know I work with food. In addition to making food, I distribute food to people who come up to a window. Most times its the same people everyday; so after awhile you get to know everyone. I have learned about  people by handing out food and meeting with individually with one, two or whole families of people who receive monthly packages.

Helping to run and operate the food pantry has required me to develop effective management skills. Planning ahead, multitasking, and making quick decisions are among those management skills. Overall I am growing into the job and gradually feeling less awkward in seizing the mantle. On another note, Syracuse is a interesting city with lots to do. Having lived in a smaller town the last four years the urban environment has been an adjustment for me. Today we explored more of downtown Syracuse, visiting the YMCA and the main public library. There is still so much left to explore in Syracuse; time will unlock the rest!

During the course of the week I reread the peace prayer of St. Francis several times. For whatever reason this prayer resonated with me several times this week. Not sure why, but its a powerful prayer and one I highly recommend for anyone to pray even if you are not Catholic or even Christian. The prayer only points to the wisdom and genius of St. Francis and the Franciscans as whole.

Look for another post next week! God Bless.


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This week I started the second part of my job at FrancisCorps, working with Franciscan Northside Ministries. This part of my job will consist of helping to run the Poverello Health Clinic, Legal clinic services, and several other duties while putting several hours at the food pantry. Overall I like my many jobs and seeing the adventures that unfold with them each day because each has truly been a unique adventure! Some days are more tough than others, but I still get through and feel confident to grow in my mastery of the jobs.

We said goodbye this week to Brother Jim Moore, founder, director, and the man who got us into FrancisCorps. He has given so much to FrancisCorps these past 13 years; changing the lives of over 100 young men and women who have successfully completed FrancisCorps. Brother Jim’s time away will be hard on us, that is why we gave him one heck of a sound off on Thursday night the likes of which he will never forget. Talk about a man with an impressive record of accomplishment in his life and Franciscan ministry in and outside of FrancisCorps. He will be missed greatly!

As a group we had the opportunity to finally get out and sample the culture of Syracuse. Last night we attended Syracuse’s annual Irish Fest where we got enveloped in all things Irish. I felt my Irish heritage shined brightly that night and my blood bled green! Syracuse is a great center of cultural and many things to do. We hope to find more opportunities like Irish Fest and to tap into other community events/activities in the coming year. Syracuse once used to be a more thriving city and full of prosperity. The neighborhood I work in was once full of middle class families and thriving. Within just one generation all of that has evaporated as poverty, crime, and decline continue to be problems. However, the efforts of young adults such as myself have and are helping to revive the inner neighborhoods of Syracuse.

One another note, tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  Ten years seems like a long time to me, but in truth the events of that infamous day seem very fresh in my mind and in others. We are going to a memorial mass today that will honor the anniversary of the attacks as well as the police, firefighters, and other public servants who performed heroically in their duties on that day. It is also important to note the importance of faith and religion in the memory of 9/11. I cannot understand why the mayor of New York City choose to exclude clergy and other faith leaders from involvement in the memorial services. Many religious leaders including several Catholics gave their lives on that day. Others helped right at ground zero and continue to serve those effected. It does little justice to exclude them from the memorial service in my view.

Going forward I am still very honored to be here in Syracuse doing FrancisCorps. Each day reveals something new to me about my purpose here and why God called to this experience. My efforts I think are part of service oriented spirit characteristic of the “Millennial Generation.” Having grown up in the wake of 9/11 and the Great Recession it has become our task like previous generations to help rebuild and seize the mantle of leadership in a time of crisis. I firmly believe my time in Syracuse roots from this conviction. Hopefully, I can make that difference and sacrifice in this moment for a better tomorrow. One day, one effort a time. Let the adventures continue!

God Bless and look for another post new week. I leave you with this prayer in both its written and video version as reminder of strength and perseverance. My Irish heritage of love for all things Irish inspired its selection.

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Friday after my day ended, I thought the following: “my life has already forever changed after working with and for the poor.” The entire past week and all of the events that happened  led me to this conclusion. I knew working with the poor would change my life, but never did I suspect it would happen so quickly or shock me so suddenly!

Starting on Monday little did I know what to expect and by Friday I felt so different. Working as the Assistant Outreach Coordinator at Assumption Food Pantry I found myself making sandwiches, slicing meat and bread, driving a storage van, sorting vegetables, and the most powerful handing out food to the poor. Each day this week brought a new experience and left me truly speechless and amazed. The food pantry entirely with volunteers expect for my boss, the director of the pantry. Everyone has been very nice, supportive, and dedicated to the cause. Hard to find a better place to work.

The job is not easy, but it is worth it. On Friday for the first time I served food to the poor at the pantry window and it was powerful. Seeing people of all conditions coming to the window to ask for whatever we had. Perhaps the hardest experience was handing out food to children and then having to shut the door on them because we had to close the pantry. I felt so bad for having to do this even though I knew it had to be done. Its hard to accept limitations when it comes to helping the poor. However, I determined that I can only do so much and the best thing approach is to seize as much good and multiply it as much as possible.

I’ve always tried to stand on the side of the poor and disadvantaged; doing this job has only deepened that conviction. It makes me very sad to see labor and the working classes neglected and marginalized in today’s society. With Labor Day coming up Monday I have a lot about solidarity and working to increase that for the poor. Catholic social teaching has always supported labor rights and given voice to the voiceless. This year the US Bishops issued a statement reasserting this teaching and other voices have stood to give voice on the issue. I share these same beliefs. My job can give me the opportunity to put them into action and ultimately lead to career in that field.

On a different note the Costa Rica group departs tomorrow, it is very sad to see them go, but they are ready to begin their ministries like the Syracuse group did this week. Syracuse is a very nice community and it has potential to become revitalized into something greater. Efforts like what I am doing with FrancisCorps are the steps in that direction. If only more people my age dedicated time to service for just a year in a city or area that needed help. It would not have to be religious in its basis, but it would make so much difference.

I sincerely hope whoever reads this blog in the coming year will find my reflections inspiring and help in their discernment process to consider a service year or years even. The work I know will be very hard, but doable and have made all the difference in the end! Be sure to keep workers and labor in your thoughts and prayers this upcoming. They deserve better because how they are treated effects everyone including you and me.

Look for another blog post next week. God Bless!

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