Leave nothing unsaid

Next week, we will begin the semester at UMass Dartmouth with a new retreat for our returning Peer Leadership Team. CorsairWorks is a two-day, interactive leadership retreat that takes place on August 26-27. 

Students will gain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for fruitful servant leadership at UMass Dartmouth Catholic Campus Ministry and Newman House and ultimately in their communities and parishes before and after graduation.

The CorsairWorks Leadership Retreat is based on James 2:14-26: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

My pastor once indicated in his sermon that James must be from Missouri, since it is the “show me” state and James is basically saying “show me” — that as Christians we need to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. St. James is challenging Christians to a life of action. One in which we go out and act as Christ would act in this world today. One in which we are Christ to others. That is the challenge to our peer leaders and to you!

Imagine what it would be like in our parishes, our towns, our diocese, our world if each and every one of us took the call to action seriously? Imagine the transformation that could take place if we each gave time in service to our fellow person!

It can be done! We just need to do it!

As an example, look at what just two UMass Dartmouth students were able to accomplish last year. These two young people recognized the fact that many college students don’t have the money to buy food. It’s hard to believe that a student can go to college and go hungry at the same time. With the costs of college, books and lodging, sometimes meals are skipped. This is a national issue, not just a UMass Dartmouth issue! As a result the Students Helping Students Food Pantry was opened and they assisted nearly 60 students during the spring semester. Two of our Endeavor scholars made a huge difference in the lives of these 60 students.

Other students are involved with My Brother’s Keeper, a vibrant, welcoming Christian ministry in Easton and Dartmouth which delivers furniture and food to local families in need. Students and adults from UMass Dartmouth are also involved delivering and serving dinner to the guests at the Sister Rose House in New Bedford, a ministry of Catholic Social Services. 

During the fall, hundreds of students and staff support our Thanksgiving Food Drive and our Christmas Giving Tree project. I could go on and on with examples of service that takes place out of this public university. While I have focused on service at UMass Dartmouth, there is no doubt that “faith in action” is taking place all over our diocese and in our parishes. 

So please accept this challenge to get involved. I’m sure my parish is not much different than any other parish and yes, we have many good people assisting in the various ministries that make the parish such a faith-filled community — especially those ministries that reach out to assist those in need. But I ask “what would it be like” if everyone who calls themselves a Catholic gave of themselves in the same way as our perennial volunteers? Our parishes would be “happening places” wouldn’t they? 

In Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” she sings, “Like a small boat, on the ocean. Sending big waves into motion. Like how a single word, can make a heart open. I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.” I believe that these lyrics speak to the effect that even small things can have. Let it remind us that each and everyone of us can make a difference no matter how small the effort seems. The song is an inspirational anthem and, I believe, the chorus can be understood as a musical kick in the pants we all need sometimes

I hope that these simple thoughts might provoke us enough to call others to action, too, especially our teens and young adults. I hope you will all give of your time in the weeks and months ahead. Your diocese, your parishes and many people need you.

Now imagine it is Christ Who is asking, “Would you be willing to give service to the parish, to others and to Me?” Your answer?

Anchor columnist Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 37 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters and their husbands, and an 18-month-old grandson. Comments, ideas or suggestions? Please email him at DeaconFrankLucca@comcast.net.

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