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Volunteering – Living a Life with Meaning

May 08, 2017

The best role model for volunteering is St Joseph ‘the worker’.

St Joseph: just man... tireless worker... upright guardian.

On the feast of St Joseph the Worker (May 1), which is also called International Workers’ Day, may the dignity of work be experienced by all. To see a world where we acknowledge that all work is about contributing to the good of the community and human flourishing. Where people have a safe, respectful and positive work environment that enables them also to enjoy the other good things in life.

One of the best decisions in my life was to begin volunteering with a group which was reaching out to people seeking asylum in our country. My reason for volunteering was that our government wasn’t doing enough for these people. Fifteen years later, I’m still trying to do myself out of a job.  Thursdays, my volunteering day, have become sacrosanct. Many come to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to volunteer for all different reasons: 95% of the volunteers do so for the common good, others for social reasons or professional development. The ASRC is the largest not for profit organisaiton of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Volunteers make up 94.5% of its workforce – no other organisation can boast the same.

Associate Professor Dr Thomas Nielsen, University of Canberra, advocates a ‘Curriculum of Giving’.

We now know that volunteering is not just good for our physical health, but for our psychological and emotional health too. Giving is one of the strongest predictors of increasing our health and happiness. Dr Thomas Nielsen

Research shows that volunteers live happier and healthier lives. There is so much more to volunteering than simply giving your time and skills to help others.

So we go forward together as volunteers, together in the spirit of St Joseph the worker, living a life with meaning.

Prayer to St Joseph:

Joseph, help us to listen to our dreams with compassion and openness as you did.
Help us to stretch, hold and deepen our relationships.
Open our embrace of the future as you opened your arms in embrace of a child.
In these hard times may we like you, dream compassionately, provide wisely and build community.
That can hold us together.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Rita Malavisi rsj