“THEY CAME FROM AFAR BEARING GIFTS” (MT 2:11)
“They came from afar bearing gifts” (Mt 2:11) – the gift of themselves! On August 8, 2022, six students and recent grads came all the way from Nebraska during their summer break to bring their youthful enthusiasm to our Residents as part of their service trip to Philadelphia. Their mentor, Father Carson Kain had studied at St. Charles Seminary and was ordained for the Diocese of Lincoln in 2019. The group started off their time in Philadelphia by working with “Christ in the City.” Having enjoyed a service trip to Villa Guadalupe, the Little Sisters’ Home in Gallup New Mexico, they added Holy Family Home to their itinerary.
The Little Sisters were delighted to welcome them, share with them “our treasures,” the Residents, and express our gratitude for their help. They began at 9 a.m. by tackling the trash on the sidewalk all around the block on the outer side of our wall. Sr. Jessica worked side by side with Father and the young sweepers and pick-er-up-ers, out in the heat. All were mutually energized by a sense of purpose, and eager for a glass of water upon their return. Passers-by admired the “difference” in our sidewalk.
After a prayerful pause for Holy Mass celebrated by Father Carson followed by lunch, they began afternoon activities. Some cleaned chairs and transported them to the dining room. Others helped animate a party with the Residents who were treated to toe-tapping, hand-clapping lively music by Joe, a one-man-band, and a beautiful song from one of the volunteers.
At 3:30 p.m. we all savored the “cherry on the top” of the day. Mother Celine gathered all the volunteers with the Little Sisters and asked: “What were your expectations before you came?” “What are your impressions now?” It was enlightening to listen to their honest reflections. Several had no expectations, didn’t know what to expect. Most thought the day would be spent in manual labor. All were pleasantly surprised, especially with their interactions with the Residents. Some didn’t imagine they would find such a happy atmosphere inside a nursing home.
These generous volunteers came from afar bearing gifts. They returned with newly discovered gifts. So did we!