Volunteer Name: Rebecca Judge, BSVM 2018-2019
Alma Mater: St. Joseph’s University
Placement Site: Spiritual Care Partner, Richmond Community Hospital
- Describe an influential experience that led you to a year of service.
During winter break of my senior year at St. Joseph’s University, I was blessed to travel to Ecuador for a service immersion experience. This short time in Ecuador transformed my heart, my relationship with God, and my overall approach to service. The program was unique in the way that our service consisted of experiencing the reality of the neighbors in Arbolito, meaning that our days were mainly filled with visiting neighbors in the community, hearing their stories, and sharing meals together. Our role was to minister to the neighbors through a compassionate presence and intentional accompaniment. It was in this space that my heart was truly liberated. I learned how to simply “be” rather than “do” for others through service. There were points in the week when I felt that I should be doing more for the neighborhood, as it seemed to me that they had many physical needs that weren’t being helped by my simple presence there. Yet, by the end of the week, I came to understand that I could offer healing to the neighbors through simple, intentional moments of encounter. Actively listening to the struggles of a single mother as she clutched her precious baby girl to her chest, playing soccer with the children who were eager to show off their skills, and accepting fresh fruit from a neighbor as she welcomed us into her home are all moments that seemed so simple at the time. Yet they were so powerful in the way that they allowed my authentic self to come alive. In these moments, I experienced a profound and lasting sense of joy and peace, and I craved for a deeper application of this authenticity in my everyday life. Creating intentional community, maintaining peace, and most importantly, fostering my relationship with God became the foundations of each of my days as I began to discover my true desires. It was in Ecuador that I truly learned how transformative vulnerability can be, especially when I share my heart freely and work to be in right relationship with God, with others, and with myself. This experience led me to the Bon Secours Volunteer Ministry, where I continue to live out a ministry of presence and bring Christ’s love to others through simple acts of encounter and sacrifice.
2. What is your favorite song at the moment?
At the moment, my favorite song is “Learning How to Love” by Colony House. The song recounts a common struggle that many Christians face as we try to give God our whole selves. Loving God and trusting God enough to say “yes” to Him in every moment is a constant process that requires many small victories, which, over time, can seem quite daunting. We may fear that God’s infinite mercy and unconditional love might still not be enough to transform us, and some may even feel overwhelmed by such a love that we humans can never understand. But in the song God says, “Love me with who you are.” He wants our whole selves – our strengths, as well as our weaknesses. Although it’s a slow process, we can keep moving forward to trust God more each day and to give Him more of ourselves. Loving God in this way calls us to be vulnerable, to take risks, and to make real sacrifices. We’re reminded in the song that this process of learning how to love can be a joyful journey, as we are accompanied by a God who is patient, merciful, and loving. We do not have to be perfect to love God, and it is through loving Him that we are transformed. As I continue to be present to myself, to others, and to God this year, I approach each encounter with this mindset of being on a journey of love.