From Your Servant Leaders
February 22, 2018

Douglas High School
The Mary Help of Christians Conference is only a mile from Douglas High School, the scene of the Ash Wednesday shootings. The school is even closer to the hearts of our members.

The Parkland migrant farm worker families, some with students at the school, had been the subject of the most recent District Council meeting. How could the Society reach out more and be involved with them? Then the shootings happened. The families are in shock.

The Conference visited with the family of a slain 14-year old boy. The family had already been contacted by others. In fact the phone was ringing constantly. Lawyers. Media. Others, seeking to make a profit from the tragedy. Several people had already set up Go Fund Me accounts. Some had raised and then run off with tens of thousands of dollars. Others were calling to help with money.

The Conference decided that the best thing they can do is to serve as the intermediary between the family and the outside world during such a time of stress and chaos. Two local Vincentians have a son who is a teacher at the school. He teaches on the second floor. The gunman was active only on the first and third, sparing his room. Still, he lost three of his students who were in other rooms. The family and the Conference are rallying around him as best they can during this tough time.

We often measure our Vincentian work in the dollars we give to families in need. There is no adequate measure for the hearts we help to mend, the hands we hold, or the prayers we help lift up to God. The transactional gifts of rent, medicine, utilities and so forth are important, to be certain.
Yet they can never replace our loving care for our neighbors in good times and especially in bad times, when one can be so crushingly alone or in desperate yet unspoken need of a kind word, a hug or simple companionship.

During such times of great sorrow or tragedy, many are unprepared and so turn away. They don’t know what to say or how to act, and they fear embarrassment for others or themselves. Vincentians know of tough times because we willingly place ours selves in the homes of our friends in need and walk their journey with them. Our hearts are not hardened from their experience. No, they are softened, even gladdened, through dedicated and sustained empathy and the knowing experience that things often get better because God is always with us.

At our next meeting, let’s count as usual the financial support we gave since last time. But then let’s take time to share the other support we shared with our friends in need over the same period: the stories, the laughs, the prayers and the other relationship gifts that make us uniquely Vincentian. The love.

Yours in Christ,