America needs a post-COVID national service program

Called to Serve Pin Tie Tac

National Catholic Reporter July 13 2020 Yonce Shelton

Christ’s followers are to be known by their fruits. As I wake from my slumber, I am compelled by the thought of all the fruit at the food pantry that must be sorted and distributed today. This service is fruit borne by belief in Christ. Before I head off, I affix a small pin with an ‘A’ on it — a reminder of my responsibility to the nation which supports my position through government programs for national service. I remember that the inseparability of theory and practice is not just a biblical idea; it is also an American idea.

Benny Mattis wrote this last year while serving as a year-long AmeriCorps volunteer with Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) in Kentucky. AmeriCorps volunteers meet critical human and community needs across the country and receive benefits to, among other things, help with professional opportunity and growth.

CAP is one of hundreds of programs across the country that offer full-time, faith-based service to help transform communities and lives. Based on the unique mission, calling and context of these programs, each one supports the spiritual, vocational and career development of volunteers living out faith in service to the world. Many volunteers in these programs are recent college graduates.

For decades, these programs have acted on the principles in Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’ 2019 apostolic exhortation on young people, which recognizes that “social commitment is a specific feature of today’s young people.”

Especially now, young adults need pastoral guidance, good mentoring and chances to adjust their plans. They need opportunities to contribute to the common good. Looking back today, Mattis said his service experience “allowed me to build relationships across cultural divides, prayerfully discern God’s will for my life during a time of uncertainty, and pursue further education with an AmeriCorps Education Award.”

Government efforts can provide opportunities for young Christians to give and receive — and are not without precedent. Read More