The Alumni Community
  
Christ the King Service Corps, Detroit 2013 - 2014
Welcome to Staying Connected, a quarterly newsletter brought to you by Catholic Volunteer Network and the Catholic Apostolate Center. We hope this resource will inspire reflection and spark new connections for you and your fellow volunteer program alumni!
 
Our fall theme is Community. What was this experience like for you as a volunteer? P erhaps you lived in a small group that challenged you to be more independent in thought, prayer, and action. Perhaps you lived in a ten-person home, and found your place amidst the rhythms of large-house life. Maybe you are fresh from these memories, or maybe you are seeking ways to recreate the experience after a length of time since volunteering.
 
However far you have come, you are now part of a community of thousands of volunteer alumni across U.S. and the world who understand your experience! Through this newsletter you will discover their stories, you will find practical resources for determining your future steps, and you will have many opportunities to share your own perspective.

We at CVN and CAC pray that God grant you faith, hope, and courage as you continue to explore your calling.  Welcome, and thank you for choosing service!

Inked!
By Christine Convery, Christ the King Service Corps 2013 - 2014

Six months after my year with Christ the King Service Corps
"Faith, service, simplicity."
was completed, I met two of my former housemates at a parlor in downtown Detroit and got my first tattoo. Beneath a road map and skyline of Detroit, the artist inked into my skin the core values of our community: Faith, Service, and Simplicity. We walked over to Lafayette's Coney Island when we were finished, full of adrenaline and hungry for some chili dogs, when we passed a man lying face down on the sidewalk. It was late evening and March in Michigan, so very cold.

"Sir?" I asked him, "Excuse me, are you OK?"

The man didn't respond or even move. He wore layers of clothing and from my view he appeared to be homeless. My community mates and I wondered what to do. Was he hurt? Was he dead? Asleep? A small pack of young men were walking towards us on the sidewalk, likely headed to a nearby bar scene and saw us hunched over and cautiously trying to check this man.

"Don't worry about that drunk," they laughed at us, inviting us to join them instead. When we ignored their calls and crouched lower to the man on the ground, one of the passersby came up and nudged the sleeper with his foot, finally eliciting a response proving that the man was still alive. The crowd of friends continued on laughing to their night of revelry. After a few words and grunts and curses, the man communicated that he'd like us to leave him alone, and we, too, walked away into the cold night.

As we walked away I felt keenly aware of how the whole situation called into challenge the words I had just paid to have permanently etched on my skin. 


Continuing Community
Five ways to find, build, and maintain community as volunteer alumni

We know from experience that the bonds paper-people-chain.jpg formed in community are never truly diminished by time or distance. Still, it can be a challenge to take the next step (new city, new job, new relationship) without the proximate support and faith of your community members. If you are looking for ways to re-experience community as a former volunteer, here are some ways you might get started...

1.  Cultivate Local Connections - Reach out to the staff of your volunteer program to ask if they know of any fellow volunteer alumni living in your area; they may be able to make some introductions, or suggest an active ministry with staff or current volunteers whom you could connect with nearby.
 
2.  Keep in Touch - Whether sending a weekly email update, sharing resources in a Facebook group, or setting a monthly date via Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts, continue growing with your volunteer community after your service has ended. Reminisce, look ahead, and share the struggles and joys of life after service with those who served at your side.
 
3.  Renew on Retreat - Seek out opportunities to continue practicing reflection and spiritualty in community through local retreat houses. Diocesan newspapers and parish bulletins often include information about upcoming events, and  From Mission to Mission offers re-entry retreats for alumni volunteers. 


laptop_typing.jpg How has your service experience made an impact on your life?
Share your story as a Staying Connected contributor!

Did your volunteer experience influence your career choice? Have you found a unique way to stay connected to your community or service site? How do you continue to work for social justice? How has your prayer life changed? We want to hear from you! 

Get in touch with Mike McCormick at mmccormick@catholicvolunteernetwork.org to learn more! 
Upcoming Events for Volunteer Alumni

Fr. Greg Boyle - Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
November 1, 2017 - Hilton at the Ballpark, St. Louis, Mo.
As part of Catholic Volunteer Network's 40th Annual National Conference on Faith-Based Service, guests are invited to join us for our opening keynote address from Fr. Greg Boyle. Participants will hear Fr. Greg's talk and attend a post-talk reception and book signing.  Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., will share how compassion, kindness, and kinship are the tools to fight despair and decrease marginalization. Through his stories and parables, all will be reminded that no life is less valuable than another. Click here for tickets.
 
Jim Wallis - The Bridge to a New America
November 4, 2017 - Hilton at the Ballpark, St. Louis, Mo.
As part of Catholic Volunteer Network's 40th Annual National Conference on Faith-Based Service, guests are invited to join us for our closing keynote address from Jim Wallis. Participants will hear Jim's talk and attend a post-talk reception and book signing. Jim will share about how  America was founded by the near-genocide of one people and the enslavement of another. Since that foundation, the United States has now confronted the realized structures and systems put in place at the outset. Soon, in only a few decades from now, the United States will be - for the first time in history - a majority of minorities. This fact underlies much of the political rhetoric and discourse we now see. This session will look at that reality and how "white Christians" need to become more Christian than white. Click here for tickets.

Discernment Weekends for Young Adults, Hosted by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement 
December 1-3, 2017
These weekends are for single, Catholic men and women (ages 18 to 40) who may be thinking about a life of service as a lay person, religious brother or sister, priest, or those who are undecided and want guidance in determining how God is calling them. Participants do not necessarily need to be focused on a religious vocation-more broadly, the retreat is designed to help individuals become attuned to how God is moving them to deeper servanthood, whatever form that may take. Hear stories of how religious and lay ministers discerned their calls, learn discernment tools, and engage in rich prayer and discussion with other like-minded young adults.  Click here for more details.