The first week of June is National Volunteers Week. Our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Elke Springett has written this message to all who so selflessly serve others in our diocese and everywhere.
National Volunteers Week is a bit like Mothering Sunday. Both are moments to express in a special way what is in our hearts every day.
National Volunteers Week is an opportunity for us to reflect on the extraordinary impact of selfless service, deeply rooted in our shared faith and the teachings of the Bible. As we explore the sacred connection between service, the Catholic faith, and the transformative power of volunteering, let us celebrate the invaluable contributions made by so many individuals in parishes (nearly 30,000 in the Diocese of Westminster alone!), schools, charities, and elsewhere in our community. If you are one of them, thank you! At Caritas Westminster, too, we are deeply grateful for the support of around 250 amazing volunteers – see our recorded messages to you on the right of this page.
The commitment to service of every person who selflessly dedicates their time, energy, and talents to make a difference in the lives of others touches the hearts and souls of those you serve. Whether you are a seasoned volunteer or contemplating your first step into the realm of service, your presence and contributions are invaluable. Know that your acts of kindness and love are cherished and deeply appreciated.
As Catholics, we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, our ultimate example of service and compassion. Throughout the Bible, we find numerous stories that illustrate the profound impact of small acts of kindness and selfless love. Jesus taught us, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward” (Mark 9:41). These words remind us that even the simplest acts of kindness, done with a spirit of love and generosity, hold immense value in the eyes of God.
One of the most powerful examples of selfless service is found in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus tells of a traveler who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the side of the road. While religious leaders passed by without offering assistance, it was a Samaritan, considered an outsider, who showed compassion and tended to the wounded man’s needs. This parable teaches us that acts of service extend beyond societal boundaries and require us to embrace the needs of all those we encounter.
Pope Francis, in his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” beautifully captures the essence of service and its impact on our world. He reminds us, “Service is a priceless expression of human solidarity and a powerful means of building a more just society” (Laudato Si’, 2015). These words resonate deeply within our Catholic faith and inspire us to continue serving others with love and compassion.
When we engage in acts of service, we become living testimonies of our faith. Through our actions, we embody the core values of love, compassion, and solidarity. Whether it is assisting the vulnerable, comforting those experiencing loneliness, mentoring young people, or supporting charitable causes, each act of service is a tangible expression of our devotion to God and our commitment to building a more just and compassionate society.
Just as the Good Samaritan embraced the wounded traveller, we are called to open our hearts and reach out to those in need, regardless of their background or circumstances. The impact of our service extends far beyond the immediate moment. It has the power to inspire and uplift individuals, fostering a sense of hope, dignity, and belonging.
As we continue our journey of faith, let us be inspired by the teachings of Jesus, the timeless stories within the Bible, the wisdom of Pope Francis and the examples of ‘Love in Action’ we witness around us today. May our acts of service be a testament to our Catholic faith and a reflection of God’s boundless love for each and every person.
Messages of thanks from our service managers:
Messages of thanks for volunteers at projects across the diocese:
“It is hugely rewarding for us to work with what is one of the nicest teams of volunteers that we have ever encountered and we want to put on record how much we appreciate everything you do.
Thank you to our volunteers.”
Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, Ade Owusu-Ansah and Linda McHugh, Central London Catholic Churches, lunch service for people experiencing homelessness.
“We are very proud of the volunteers that come along every week and give up their free time to make the Stokey Community Shop a great success. They all show great commitment and enthusiasm to help others.”
Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Stoke Newington
“Catholic Listeners is a confidential helpline service set up for those who want to return or learn more about their faith. The helpline, which launched in April 2022, is open three times a week and is all about listening to others in a safe space…. Thank you to The Catholic Listeners volunteers.”
Ade Owusu- Ansah
A photo montage showing great examples of volunteering, including those nominated for Diocese of Westminster Love in Action Volunteering Awards last year.