FAITH MATTERS: Volunteering within our Diocese

Our mission involves working together to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of God's people…. we are called to serve, and there are many people behind the scenes who are doing just that, making a difference in the lives of hundreds of others.

We are all, at various points in our lives, short on time. Work, family and other commitments can leave us feeling like we have nothing left to give. But, have you ever considered on what there is to gain by volunteering?

Summer Harrison, a young Youth Minister, works every day over several jobs as she studies for her university degree. Still, she makes the time for volunteering, saying helping others makes her feel fulfilled. In fact, she says the gift of volunteering replenishes her and provides her with even more energy to continue with her daily routine.

“Volunteering makes me prioritise over those things,” Summer says.

“Work and Uni are things that I feel I must do, but don’t necessarily want to do all the time. However, my time spent volunteering has helped me realise, somewhat ironically, how much reward there is in giving selflessly... you see that when you step away from your own distractions and help others.”

Sometimes we might feel as though the act of volunteering is too big a task, or that we don’t know where to start. Volunteering helps you to know your skills and strengths and discover new skills as you go.

Vynette Shrimpton volunteers as a Special Religious Education teacher in state schools. She was unsure about how her lessons would be structured until she had done her research.

“I’m enriched by sharing my knowledge and passion with the children as I know that I’m handing on something precious that will help them on their faith journey.”

Her work with young people is like tending to a precious garden. She plants the seed and helps nourish it with her knowledge, love and joy of the Gospel.

“They know that God loves them and if I can come away seeing that they realize how much they are loved by God then I’m doing my job.”

Catherine Kilpatrick has served as a volunteer for more than fifteen years and she knows that teaching SRE has increased her prayer time as she reflects upon lessons that were and lessons ahead.

Helene O’Neil spends a great deal of time working with charitable organisations within the diocese whilst holding a full-time job as Chaplain to the Curia. She says she has witnessed an increase in the demand in need for volunteers across the community, including to help provide Diocesan services such as Special Religious Education.

But, how do you know if you’ve got something to offer?

Helen says that with various volunteering opportunities available, there is something to suit everyone’s skills set and availability and that making an enquiry with Pastoral Ministries is a great place to start.

“Perhaps you may feel as though the skills, experience and expertise that you have is not enough, or that you have nothing to share. But we all have gifts we can share and sometimes that can just be listening to someone in their time of need.”

Summer agrees, adding that her vast experiences in volunteering have helped her to assist various causes, but also develop new skills, meet new people and learn about things she would never would have otherwise.

“I am probably the happiest I’ve ever been when I am helping other people.”

If you would like to learn more about the various volunteering opportunities that exist within the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and how you might be able to assist, please contact the Pastoral Ministries team on 4979 1200.

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