Editorial: Service begets service

  • February 29, 2024

It’s easy to be convinced that current times call us to shout at each other, to disdain, to quarrel, to stage hit-and-run detraction ops against perceived foes.

Reality begs to differ. The truth, too easily overlooked, is that we live in a world of service to our fellow human beings, and to the world God has created for us.

For us as Catholics, the evidence is abundant in the call to service answered every hour of every day by those who devote their lives, in large ways and small, to peace, to justice, to alleviation of suffering, to good old-fashioned conversation, to just ensuring someone somewhere has a square meal and a fair deal.

We feature those stories weekly in The Catholic Register because they are the beating heart of Catholic life once the Mass has ended and we are called upon “to love and serve the Lord” in the world beyond the church doors. Annually, as in this issue, we gather together several pages of such stories for our Call to Service feature.

Reading those stories before publication, a truth that shone through them is the way service begets service in a seemingly endless effect of call and response.

An ideal example is our report on Ana Rivera, who was drawn to pro-life work even before university, set aside some prudential qualms about how it might affect her future and launched the 40 Days for Life Campaign in Hamilton, Ont., five years ago.

Rivera’s service to that cause has touched many hearts spiritually, our contributor John Wilson reports, and brought God’s presence to a milieu that might otherwise be purely political by nature. There, quite gloriously, is where the servant becomes the served.

“Rivera traced her vocation to defend the unborn back to hearing the testimonies of pro-life workers on a Catholic radio station, Radio Maria Colombia,” Wilson writes.

Others who went out to love and serve the Lord passed on the gift of service so that the young woman who received could pass it on to others.

So too, at the other end of life’s continuum, we find Fr. Leo Ramsperger. As The Register’s Luke Mandato reports, the retired priest turned 100 on Feb. 25 and is marking 70 years of priesthood in 2024.

Following “official” retirement in 1997, Fr. Ramsperger offered daily Mass “at a chapel in his house just north of Bancroft where he lived for 24 years.” Even if only one person — or no one — came, “I’d be completely happy,” he says. “That is a gift: we’re never alone because God is with us.”

Again, the gift of a call to service came to him through the dedication to service of a pastor at Ramsperger’s childhood parish. “I remember when he died my mother took me to his funeral. That was one of the reasons I wanted to become a priest.”

Service is not only its own reward or a gift that keeps on giving. It is the incentive that gives others the desire to also serve. That much is irrefutable in our Call to Service story on the Niagara Catholic District School Board honouring a trio of its education leaders with an award of distinction in March. John Belcastro, Sr. Mary Kay Camp and Angelo Di Ianni will be recognized for their long-standing and exemplary service as teachers, administrators and board members. But the full measure of their service was captured by director of education Camillo Cipriano.

“When you sit down and read the things these three recipients have done to enhance and advance Catholic education here and across Ontario, it is truly humbling to know you are a part of that same system,” Cipriano said.

What Cipriano is expressing is that the system, meaning a significant part of the world and those who live in it, is better not only because John Belcastro, Sr. Mary Kay Camp and Angelo Di Ianni have served, but because they have moved others to aspire to that same quality of service.

Do these or any of the other examples in this issue entirely negate the shouting, disdain, quarrelling,  hit-and-run detraction of our times? Nothing can. But they point us as Catholics toward love and service of the Lord, that is to reality.

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