As Catholics, we are constantly hearing the word “service”. We are consistently reminded to serve others, whether it be our friends and family sitting right next to us, or others in various places of the world whom we may not personally know. The importance of serving all people has been reiterated to us countless times. This we know. But, do we know what service actually is and why it is so important?

The dictionary definition of service is quite simple. Service is defined as “an act of helpful activity; help; aid”. By human nature, we want to help those around us who are in need of assistance. Sympathy and empathy are a significant driving force in the desire to assist others. Additionally, as Catholic Christians, serving others is part of our baptismal call. God calls all of us to serve others. What is not so simple, however, is the actual act of serving. Thoughtfulness, effort, and a passion to aid others are just a few of the necessary elements to justly serve.

Once you find those things within yourself, the importance of service should become clear to you. First and foremost, service is an outlet to allow for growth in one’s faith. While forming a relationship with those whom you are serving, your relationship with God is strengthened. Doing work in the name of God shows pure commitment. While Jesus may be first, the served and servers evidently shall not be last. Service is a rewarding experience for the server as well as the person or persons being served. The selfless act of service and its impact never go unnoticed by anyone.

Caleb Olsen, one of our peer ministers here at Saint Margaret, gives us an account of his experience with service. Olsen has been traveling to West Virginia along with his family the past four summers to provide aid to numerous people during a work camp called Appalachia.
“Appalachia has been the event in my life that truly taught me what it meant to be a Catholic. Going to West Virginia the past four years has shown me what it means to truly embody the Catholic faith and to love my neighbor as myself,” he says. The main task-at-hand at the work camp is to construct various structures for homes. “Not only has it taught me what it meant to be a Catholic, but it also allowed me to meet so many amazing and faith-filled individuals who by their perseverance and joy allow me to grow into a better Christian every week I go.”

Olsen has demonstrated and experienced what it means to be a servant in the truest form. He has taken each of his experiences as an opportunity to learn and grow from. Along with him, we all have growing we can do through the act of service.