Friday, May 10, 2019

An Ode to the Volunteers

Written by  Celeste Woloschuk

Oh great volunteers of the Cathedral, shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Well, with poetry a land upon which I never tread,
I think it would be wise to take another option.
How about a story instead?

One of the privileges of my job as Admin Assistant is I get to work with a substantial number of the volunteers who selflessly give of their time here at the Cathedral. And truly, it is an honour to work with them… with you. From our ministry sign-up Sundays in the Fall, to the different asks and programs throughout the year, I am always astounded not only by how many different people respond to the call, but by the generosity of those who respond.

Easter was a brilliant example of this generosity. Every year, hundreds of hours go toward preparations for Holy Week, the Triduum and the Easter season. Here at the office, it is an absolute zoo. This past Holy Week, to try and make sure I kept my head on straight and to try to remember that we were preparing for the most holy time in our liturgical year, I would stop what I was doing every now and again to breathe and to simply be for a moment. It was in those moments that I really started noticing the number of people going this way and that.

For most of us on staff, the weeks before Easter present the challenge of both the normal running of the parish office and special preparations, making sure that by April 18th we would be ready for Easter. I, for example, was in charge of the Triduum and Easter bulletins as well as the Easter song booklets, which was in addition to my normal emails and phone calls, handling of the mail, setting up the bulletin board and the TV, helping people who came in to the office, etc. For weeks ahead of Holy Week, I was stressed and worried by the volume of work that needed to be done and done by me. I had to keep reminding myself that no matter what I did or did not do, Jesus would still rise from the dead and save me from sin and death, which I think was one of the only things that helped me sleep at night.

And one day, I stopped… took a breath… and noticed that it was Wednesday, April 17th. The bulletins, bulletin inserts, and song booklets were done. After weeks of writing and designing, and two solid days of printing, thousands of sheets of paper were there, on the table in front of me. I was glad and relieved by what had been accomplished, but the task wasn’t complete. The bulletins had to be folded, bulletin inserts had to be cut and put in the bulletins, and song booklets (among other things) had to be put in the pews.

I couldn’t do it. The sheer volume of work to be done… on these three projects… still… after all I had already put in… with all I still had to do… I felt sick.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. I started making calls. By the end of the day, I had a dozen people on my list who were able to come – on Holy Thursday morning with only 18 hours notice no less – for a few hours and help me with the bulletins and song sheets. That whole Holy Thursday morning, I was on the verge of tears I was so happy and grateful. By my calculations, if I had done all that work by myself, it would have taken me approximately 48 hours. Instead, I was able to entrust that work to a wonderful group of people while I had 3 hours where I could finish the work I needed to do.

Reflecting on this story this week has brought out many feelings of love and gratitude, joy and thanks in my heart. But I think the most incredible part of this story is what I haven’t told you yet. You see, the dozen who came to my rescue weren’t the only ones around nor the only ones willing to give of their time. We had people setting up for Masses and liturgies, setting up the Hall, decorating… everywhere, doing laundry, cleaning and organizing, helping cover phone calls, caring for plants, creating flower arrangements, prepping hospitality, practicing for the liturgies, serving in ministries during said liturgies, not to mention those who volunteer on a weekly basis whose service continued right through Holy Week. Even thinking of all the people I called, those who couldn’t come all said I could call them again another time as they would still love to help. And this is just some of the work that I know about.

To all who volunteer here at the Cathedral, thank you. For your time, your talent, your resources… thank you. For those who pray for our parish family, thank you. This family, your family, couldn’t live without you.

O Lord our God, we thank you for the gift of our volunteers. As they shower a myriad of blessings on their family, we ask you to bless them in turn. Grant them joy, peace and life in abundance. May they know your Grace as they have been a grace to others. Amen.

Read 148 times Last modified on Friday, May 10, 2019