May 19, 2019: Fifth Sunday of Easter - Pastoral Associate: Br. Michael James Rivera, O.P.
“I give you a new commandment,” says the Lord. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
Christ’s words at the Last Supper are as important for us today as they were for his disciples 2,000 years ago. This past December, a study from the University of California, San Diego revealed that over 75% of those surveyed described themselves as lonely — a startling statistic considering how easy it is to connect with someone halfway around the world via smartphone. What was even more surprising was the fact that a number of those participating in the survey weren’t single adults living alone, but were married with families. Not to mention that they had a large network of friends with whom they interacted on a regular basis.
So why would these people say that they’re lonely? Perhaps what they’re missing is a sense of being loved. Do they know that God loves them? Do they see His love manifested in the actions of their brothers and sisters?
When I began working at St. Dominic’s this past September, one of the first things I learned from our guests at the Lima Center (our drop-in center for the homeless) is that while food and clothing are necessary for survival, people also need LOVE. They need to know that someone cares about them. So often on the street, most people just walk by them and try not to acknowledge their existence. This is not what we are called to as Christians. Following the example of the Good Samaritan, we are commanded by God to embrace those who are suffering and in need. And we can do that in so many ways, such as offering a smile, saying hello, and listening to a request for prayer.
This is one of the goals of St. Dominic’s Community Outreach and Services, to let those in need know that they are loved. We do this through a number of ministries:
- As a distribution point for the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank
- Providing food to over 250 families at Thanksgiving with our canned food drive and the help of Mission Dolores Academy
- Making sure that over 500 children receive a gift at Christmas with the assistance of students at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory
- Preparing sandwiches for a rehabilitation center every Thursday afternoon, with additional support from children at Stuart Hall Catholic School
- Offering an emergency shelter during the winter months when it’s raining or below 50 degrees.
- Visiting the incarcerated and those in juvenile detention facilities
- Bringing Communion to the homebound and those in hospitals and nursing homes
- Giving rides to those who need help getting to medical appointments
- And, of course, through our work at the Lima Center.
Over the last few months, a number of parishioners have asked me how they can support Community Outreach and the Lima Center. One way is to volunteer. In order to find out what options are available, all you have to do is visit stdominics.org and click on the “Volunteer” tab or go directly to stdominics.tinyhelpers.org and scroll down. In addition to Community Services, you’ll find opportunities with Adult Faith Formation, Youth Ministry, Parish Maintenance and more.
Obviously a big challenge for those wanting to volunteer at the Lima Center is that many people work when we’re open during the day. So I recommend a few other ways to help. If you want to prepare a simple lunch for Tuesday or Thursday the night before, and then drop it off for us to heat up, that works. Or you can use the kitchen here in the parish center. We also appreciate when people organize clothing or toiletry drives at their workplace or among friends and neighbors. I've set up wishlists on Amazon and DollarDays so you can see what we need and use most. DollarDays seems more expensive, but that's because we're getting a lot more items than with Amazon. DollarDays also counts your purchase as a "donation" since we’re a Church, which means you’ll get a receipt right away which you can use towards your taxes. Although Amazon doesn’t have that kind of tracking set up, if you email us your receipt after you make your purchase, we can then apply the donation to your parish file and it will appear in your yearly tax letter.
Check out the wishlists at:
Or you can make direct financial contributions when you click on the “Donate” tab on the parish website. Scroll down to Community Service and make a recurring or one-time gift. And you can even tell us where you’d like to direct the funds. For instance, did you know that the parish recently started shifting to compostable products? Plates, bowls, cups, napkins, silverware — we use these everyday. If you make a donation towards these things, you’ll be serving our guests at the Lima Center, helping the planet, and making a tax-deductible gift.
In the end, volunteering for an hour may not seem like a lot. And donating socks, deodorant and t-shirts might not appear to be a big deal. In fact, any number of social service agencies could do what we do. But to our guests at the Lima Center, and those who seek assistance at St. Dominic’s, these acts are a sign that someone cares. They show people in need that God loves them.
As we continue through this Easter season and enter into the months of summer, may we reflect on how we can serve our brothers and sisters and the Lord, as we heed his command to “Love one another.”
~Br. Michael James