For many young people who are discerning a life of service to the Church, and particularly for recent college graduates, it can be useful to spend a year or two doing volunteer work. We are associated with two volunteer programs that can help you to discern a vocation to service within the framework of Assumptionist spirituality. The first recruits almost exclusively Americans.
Since 1960, the Assumption Mission Associates (formerly known as the Associate Missionaries of the Assumption), the lay volunteer branch of the Religious of the Assumption and the Assumptionists, have been serving domestically and abroad. Through their service, they come to understand more fully the words of Blessed Marie Eugenie, foundress of the Religious of the Assumption: “Love never remains idle: it makes us creative and impels us to heed all the appeals of the world and to find new ways of answering them.”
AMA is a lay community of persons whose life and mission are rooted in the love of Jesus Christ and His Church. Their lives are marked by bearing witness to:
– a community life characterized by a commitment to personal and communal growth, the values of a simple lifestyle, the spirituality of the contemplative in action, and a spirit of trust;
– a prayer life deeply rooted in Jesus and Mary, the celebration of the Eucharist, and the celebration of prayer in community;
– a life in mission impelled by the faith to work for the Christian transformation of society, which comes from faith.
AMA volunteers see and experience life through the eyes of others: those to whom they minister and those with whom they live. Living in community with other volunteers, AMA’s find the support of peers and shared experiences. In addition, AMA’s will receive guidance from the Religious of the Assumption and the Assumptionists, women and men who have vowed to live a life dedicated to service to God, education, and community living.
At this site, the volunteers live at Cana community of the Assumption Center and serve the population of the Main South neighborhood, a diverse tapestry of cultures and languages from around the world. Volunteers work closely with the Religious of the Assumption, who accompany and support them throughout the year. As part of a “whole community” ministry, AMA’s are present to many age ranges: children, youth, and adults. AMA’s provide youth ministry, mentoring, and parish ministry through St. Peter’s parish (English, Spanish, African, and Children’s Masses) and St. Andrew the Apostle Mission parish. Volunteers live on the second floor of the Assumption Center, within walking distance of St. Peter’s Parish where the ESL and Mentoring Programs take place. It is is also the home of the “Semillas de Vida”/ “Seeds of Life” garden, which allows the gardeners from the community to live a more environmentally conscious way of life. The Center opens its doors to the community through other events and opportunities such as the Spiritual Library, Knitting Circle, Vietnamese Club, and Lecture Series.
Additional site information: Space for 5 AMA’s, male or female.
Chaparral, New Mexico
In rural Chaparral, on the US/Mexican border and about 20 miles from El Paso, the Assumption Sisters, along with their partner AMA’s, work with the largely recently arrived Mexican population. The AMA’s live and work at Casa Maria Eugenia, running youth programs, and facilitating vacation and summer camps for children and teens. They also coordinate Friday night activities for the families of Chaparral; assist in the nearby middle-school with ESL classes and transitioning recently arrived students; assist with Parish Ministry (for example, CCD, RCIA, youth group, and First Communion preparation); join the Sisters in many peace and justice activities; volunteer at the prison; and immerse themselves in the life of the community. (see the article on the Straw Sisters of Chaparral)
Additional site information: Space for 2 females, must speak Spanish (or at least have a beginner’s level and be open to practicing!)
The Pendower Estate is a group of 500 households in the west of Newcastle. It has been left out of all major regeneration initiatives, though it shares the disadvantages of long term unemployment and lack of opportunity in the area. This results in anti-social behaviour, vandalism, drugs, etc. The project began in 1998 as an initiative of the local churches to build community in the estate and organize facilities for the children, the pensioners and all the residents. There is now a neighbourhood center for activities called the Sunnybank Centre, made up of two semi-detached houses with a flat above and a community garden. The project is staffed by a social worker, part time staff and volunteers. The project is looking for volunteers who will: form supportive relationships with residents of all ages and backgrounds through sharing the reality of daily life; use their talents in some of these areas: after school activities, holiday activities, parents and toddlers, community events, gardening, decorating, producing the newsletter, supporting pensioners; and be active members of one of the local church congregations (Anglican, Catholic, Methodist…)
Additional site information: Shared site placement with Assumption Volunteers in England, male or female
There are a number of youth and community based projects available in the Philippines. Our main partner in the Philippines is a local AMA program that recruits Filipino and foreign young people who are willing to offer a year or two of service in teaching or apostolic ministries throughout the country. The volunteers form communities of young people committed to freedom, love and growth of each member and service of the poor and the young.
The projects vary from year to year. Recent American and British volunteers have worked in primary and secondary schools, teaching English at the Assumptionist Language Center, an early childhood development center, an organization that works with street children, rebuilding projects after the typhoons of 2009, and a l’Arche community.
Additional site information: Shared site placement with AMA-Philippines, male or female. Volunteers wishing to work in the Philippines must be prepared to live with other volunteers in community houses. They must also have a high degree of maturity and flexibility, given the cultural differences.
For more information, go to www.assumptionvolunteers.org