To the Editor:
I have read the Rhode Island Catholic in the past and wanted to offer this opinion to your letters to the editor column. I do not know what your policy is on printing letters from outside the diocese, but after reading a transcript on Pope Benedict’s call for Catholic volunteerism during his trip to Austria late last year, it is my sincere hope you will publish this letter.
With the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney so much in the news during this 2008 election year, much attention has been given in the press to the Mormon religion. As a Catholic, I have always admired the way that the Mormon religion requires all of their young adult members to do two years of missionary service; it always crosses my mind that much of the world’s suffering could be alleviated if the Catholic Church were to require its young members to do two years of missionary work, too.
This is the time of year in which many Catholic college seniors and young working adults are contemplating doing a year of volunteer service with a Catholic volunteer organization. I have known many people who have spent a year volunteering with great organizations like the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the Glenmary Missionaries. However, I recently found out that a family friend, a young man who just graduated from Duke University, has agreed to do 14 months of volunteer work with a Catholic organization of which I had never heard.
The organization is Heart’s Home and it is an international Catholic volunteer program with 35 missions in 20 different countries. Founded in 1990 by a French priest named Father Thierry de Roucy, the mission of Heart’s Home has been to cultivate a culture of compassion while serving the most suffering in the world. Some of the countries with Heart’s Home missions are Thailand, Honduras, Haiti, Senegal, India, Peru, Philippines, Italy and Lebanon. Missionaries do such things as visiting the elderly, disabled and incarcerated, and providing food to the hungry or teaching CCD, all through a community life sustained by daily Mass and prayers.
I hope that you will print this letter for two reasons. First, any young Catholic interested in Heart’s Home can check out their Web site at www.heartshomeusa.org. Second, maybe this letter will encourage young Catholics in Rhode Island to explore all the various Catholic volunteer programs so that they will see the benefits of serving Christ’s church for a year or more. A great source is The Catholic Network of Volunteer Service (www.-cnvs.org). Thank you and God bless you.
(P.S. I am familiar with Rhode Island because some aunts and uncles settled there from Quebec)