A Unique Spring

By Blake Daly, FC 17 Syracuse

Francis House Patio

Spring has arrived in Syracuse and the n

ice weather is finally here. The trees are waking up and it seems like all of Syracuse is following suit. Everyone is out on their porches, the windows are open, the music is on, and so is the city. The intoxicating weather makes it hard to imagine that a few months ago the city was buried under snow and I catch myself taking it all for granted thinking, “finally it’s here, now what!” . This all started to change a few weeks ago when I began visiting with a resident at Francis House on the patio outside.

It was early in the spring, the sun was out and the weather was in the 50’s so naturally, as a true Canadian, I was in a t-shirt and itching to get outside. I asked the residents if any of them wanted to get outside and while many of them did want to, they realized that it was still a little too cold for them. Through this I did manage to find one resident who wanted to go so she bundled up and we went outside to hangout.

Initially our conversation was the usual:

“Wow, it’s such a nice day!”

“Yea it really is, I can’t wait for summer!”

We talked a bit more and got to know each other but I could tell that she was looking intently at the garden around us. Our conversation slowed and naturally I pulled out my phone to look up when the Chiefs were playing, what hiking trails we should go to, and other spring activities. I was doing this until my new friend said:

“How good is God?”

I looked up from my phone, “Yeah. It is pretty amazing out here!”, then I turned back to my phone. Then she said something that caught me off guard:

“He made all of this for us and it is perfect.”

This comment persuaded me to put my phone away and I decided to just sit there watching both her joyful expression and the outside world around myself. I took the time to stop planning what I should do when the weather is nice and I tried to look at it for its own uniqueness.

Sitting on the patio and enjoying the day has become a regular thing for us to do and we have had the blessing of being able to watch the world changing right around us.  That day, that garden, that sky, will never happen again. It was unique. It was a once in a lifetime moment and it is forever gone. But that uniqueness and perfection that my friend gave me a glimpse into on the Francis House patio will stay with me forever. It will stay because every day is unique and so is everything in the world.

Imagine a world where everything is unique. There are no other days like this one today, no two baseball games the exact same, no music, no food, no ideas, nothing. Nothing the same, everything unique and new. This is the world in which we live. What an adventure.

This gift of insight that my friend shared with me has been a game changer for me and I anticipate a lifelong challenge of finding the uniqueness in every day and the perfection in it all.

A Declaration on Readiness for the FC Afterlife…

By Joe Cuda, FC 17 Syracuse13138881_1078484702198322_794900635389036000_n

Hey I’m writing this blog post on May Day which makes me say “Woh! How did this happen?!”

Because one year ago today, I was celebrating the last day of classes at Luaupalooza, the campus wide end of the year party at Catholic University. I was excitedly anticipating graduation and happily resting in the comfort of at least knowing what I would be doing next year.

Now May’s here again! Unbelievable! It’s funny how all the months and days arrive on schedule yet I can still be flabbergasted at their arrival. Time flies, what else is there to say? I guess sometimes I lose track of the time and only become alert again with the dawning of an incoming change, which can be hard to face.

The change to come will be the end of my FrancisCorps experience in three months. Yep, come July 29th, we’re all being given a goodbye party. And I’m not quite sure what will happen after that. The usual fears then arise about such life transitions: leaving a comfortable place to start somewhere anew, actually living on my own, making new friends, and other nagging questions and concerns. It can seem so endless sometimes.

But I’d like to use the rest of this blog post as a little declaration of how I feel ready to face these challenges and explore new environments because of what I have experienced in FrancisCorps.

Remember that scene in Home Alone, where Kevin McCallister decides to crawl out from under the bed, and walk outside his front door and shout “Hey, I’m not afraid anymore! I said I’m not afraid anymore! Do you hear me? I’m not afraid anymore!”

Maybe not but I’m happy if you do – I love that movie!

I mention that because it’s exactly how I feel like responding to post-FrancisCorps life! “Hey I’m not afraid anymore!”

I’ve fallen off the math wagon these past years but here is an equation I’ve come up with right now based on these eight months so far of living in community, volunteering and growing in faith:

Myself x FrancisCorps Experience = Better version of myself

It’s quite simple really. Basically FrancisCorps has changed me. I’m not the same person I used to be and it’s amazing when I think about it. “Better” of course is a broad word, but it conveys growth and transformation to a certain degree which I think is what FrancisCorps has been all about. I’ll go through the gist of it.

In community, I have made lifelong friends who have challenged and helped me to become a better Christian. By living with Blake, Ana, Marie and Corrinne, I’ve grown by sharing in their own lives and the gifts each of them offer. I’ve learned so much about my personality and talents, and definitely my faults and shortcomings. Community has taught me how to love better and to embrace myself, teaching me that everything is really a gift.

In my service at the refugee center, I have been challenged to live out the Gospel every day and I’ve discovered how hard that really is. The Gospel has become more real to me in this way because I have experienced its daily trials, joys and struggles. It takes such openness and willingness to continue to give of myself and to serve not as I will, but as God wills. I came into the year with a lot of romantic notions of Gospel service. It does have its wonderful, storybook moments but it’s easy to forget or overlook the reality of the daily Gospel grind. But nobody ever said it was easy, and if it was, how would we grow?

Faith…while God continues to be at work in my FrancisCorps experience, I believe my faith has been made stronger. It has been tested in new ways. It has taken punches and been put through new obstacle courses. It has struggled like it hasn’t struggled before. It has led me through struggles like never before. What’s great is that I really don’t know the full impact of this year! But I trust that in God’s love and providence, he is doing great things within me and lighting a future path.

The bottom line I want to convey is that I am a transformed person because of my FrancisCorps experience. Remember that equation?! I will be ready for the FC afterlife. I must believe that my experiences, everything I’ve learned and the ways I’ve grown in FrancisCorps are all gifts given to me. They have changed me in good ways so I can better navigate what lies ahead.

So when the time comes to exit FrancisCorps and tread a new path, I will, in the spirit of St Francis no less, have the confidence and courage to say “Hello Sister Change”, and walk on with all the newness in my heart!