From The Voice: Give Yourself Up for Lent


Originally published on February 19th 2018, this article was taken from the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus’s column in The Georgetown Voice, entitled Gaudium et Spes. The column, written by members of the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus, appears online every other Friday.

By: Michael DeFelice

“We must, therefore, gain possession of ourselves, by asceticism, in order that we may be able to give ourselves to God.”

Thomas Merton

You may have seen people walking around with ash on their foreheads last Wednesday. This, of course, was not a result of the Georgetown community forgetting en masse to wash their faces that morning. It was part of the celebration of Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season, in which Catholics typically take on one ascetic practice or another in preparation for Easter.

Lent memorializes the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert preparing for his Passion, and precedes the Triduum, three days commemorating the Last Supper (Holy Thursday), Jesus’ crucifixion (Good Friday), and his resurrection (Easter). Just as Jesus fasted for 40 days, so, too, are Christians called upon to fast. We abstain from meat on Fridays and either give up some favorite snack (hopefully without unduly burdening Snaxa) or add a daily devotional such as a prayer or mass.

I must confess, however, that Lent has always been perplexing to me. It is meant to be a preparation for Easter, but what is there really to prepare for? Of course, Easter morning I’ll comb my hair and put on a nice shirt for mass, but do I really need 40 days?

Giving up chocolate is a common Lenten sacrifice. Yes, it’s hard when your Thin Mints finally show up the day before Ash Wednesday, but surely the sacrifices of a dessert-ascetic are a sufficient preparation for Easter?

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and spiritual writer of the 20th century, changed my perspective on sacrifice. To give up and abstain from certain pleasures during Lent is not about trying to be a spiritual heavyweight. It might be uncomfortable to pass up meat on a Friday, but if the Stations of the Cross—the series of images depicting the crucifixion—tell us anything, is it not that this season was made possible by a suffering far greater than what I suffer by abstaining from bourgeois comforts?

In No Man is an Island, Merton wrote, “The saint, therefore, is sanctified not only by fasting when he should fast but also by eating when he should eat.” In other words, Merton rejects an asceticism that is merely flesh-deep, that is, an exercise in physical or mental toughness for its own sake.

Merton also warns against becoming a self-referential ascetic who focuses solely on the cares and concerns of the self: “They have tried to become spiritual by worrying about the flesh, and as a result they are haunted by it. They have ended in the flesh because they began in it, and the fruit of their anxious asceticism is that they ‘use things not,’ but do so as if they used them.”

What is crucial for Merton is that we do not simply practice sacrifice for self-improvement, or to instill good habits. Giving up must become a sacrifice, a giving up to God. This sacrifice, moreover, can become part of “the total offering of ourselves to God in union with the sacrifice of Christ.” When our Lenten commitments are sacrificial, they become more than just an exercise in self-discipline or spiritual endurance. They help us to become closer to and more intimate with God.

This is not to say that giving things up for Lent is shallow, but rather that it must be part of a sacrifice of ourselves to God if it is to exist on a higher plane than a New Years resolution. Even something as simple as giving up chocolate will help prepare for Easter, if it is part of a “spiritualization of our whole being through obedience to His grace.”  In obedience to God’s grace, moreover, we will be able to break out of our own self-interest and expand our perspective.

Of course, Merton’s words are not relevant only to those who have been raised or baptized Catholic. Throughout Merton’s No Man is an Island, Merton calls us out of ourselves, and in particular, to improve ourselves not for our sake, but for the sake of something greater. This message resonates well with one of Georgetown’s Jesuit values, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, “for the greater glory of God.”

So give yourself up for Lent. This message came to mind when I read Merton on sacrifice. Each morning, we prepare ourselves for the day ahead. But for Easter, it is more than a matter of combing your hair and brushing your teeth.

Easter is the celebration of a supernatural event—Christ’s rising from the dead for the redemption of mankind—and so it makes sense that it would take more than a month of untangling ourselves from earthly attachments to achieve what Merton calls “a supernatural perspective.” It is with this perspective, attained after careful and prayerful obedience to God’s grace, that we will be able to understand the gravity and significance of Lent and Easter.


From The Voice: Joy And Hope In Gaudium Et Spes

Originally published on February 2nd 2018, this article was taken from the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus’s column in The Georgetown Voice, entitled Gaudium et Spes. The column, written by members of the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus, appears online every other Friday.

By Jack Segelstein and Max Wolfgang Rosner

October 1962 was a busy month.

On the 6th, the Sino-Indian War broke out, which would claim over 10,000 casualties in the span of a month. On the 9th, Uganda gained independence from the United Kingdom, and, two weeks later, admission to the United Nations. And from the 16th to the 28th, the Cuban Missile Crisis terrified the world with the prospect of nuclear armageddon.

And on October 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, what some observers call the largest meeting in recorded human history. This assembly, often dubbed Vatican II, is the most recent of the Church’s 21 ecumenical councils, during which leaders of the Catholic Church assemble to develop and promulgate its teachings.

Even when considered in the context of the Church’s 2,000-year history, Vatican II was exceptionally important for a number of reasons. Unlike its predecessors, it was the first ecumenical council to address all of humanity, not just the Catholic faithful. Moreover, Vatican II was uniquely conscious of its historical moment, and sought to address the social, political, and spiritual needs of contemporary society.

This is seen clearly in the document entitled Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

Gaudium et spes articulates a relationship of reciprocity between the Church and the modern world, in which each offers the other some definite service. Thus, the two are “bound up” and exist in a relationship of “solidarity.” First, in terms of what the world offers the Church, Gaudium et spes claims that even those not directly involved in the work of the Church bolster its ministry. “[W]hoever promotes the human community at the family level, culturally, in its economic, social and political dimensions… is contributing greatly to the Church…”

In the preface to Gaudium et spes, we begin to see how the Church conceives of its service to the world: “Human society deserves to be renewed,” the Church claims. This may strike us as odd—what needs to be renewed? After all, in the past 50 years, extreme global poverty has declined considerably, countless diseases have been cured, more communities have formed across greater distances than ever before, and most of the world’s population no longer feels compelled to rehearse nuclear drills.

Of course, the world has witnessed a number of calamities since the ’60s, too. Of those, the Church is particularly concerned with what we’ll call a crisis of meaning. “Man painstakingly searches for a better world, without a corresponding spiritual advancement,” reads Gaudium et spes. The Church believes that this existential crisis transcends the material, the political, the shortsighted. Our material freedom has not necessarily yielded a spiritual freedom.

Gaudium et spes translates to “joy and hope.” Ultimately, this has been the promise of the Church since Christ and remains its promise today. Even though the promise remains the same, the Church speaks uniquely to and for all of us, here and now, as Vatican II makes clear.

Let’s take a look at three ideas that find particular emphasis in the modern world and at Georgetown: dignity, rights, and social justice. What does the Church have to say to us about each of these today, and what do they have to do with joy and hope?

The Church holds that every human person is endowed by God with an inherent dignity, not unlike the dignity of God Himself. Because we are made in His image, we are accorded inestimable value and certain inalienable rights.

With our dignity and our rights come the responsibility to promote the dignity and rights of our neighbors. Thus, the Catholic vision couples our individual rights with our responsibility to others. In this way, rights—and, more broadly, justice—cannot be understood outside the context of community.

This may sound alien compared to the way we typically talk about rights. For us, rights are competing. “You have no right to be on my property!”—I have the right to free speech!” As a result, rights have become politicized, even weaponized. We are led to believe that our dignity is bestowed on us by political victories instead of by God. This situation obscures and cheapens our dignity.

In Gaudium et spes, Church leaders reject this individualized conception of rights. Throughout Vatican II (and even before the Council), the Church promoted myriad rights: life, religious freedom, unionization, a living wage, and so on. Gaudium et spes adds freedom to the list—freedom to pursue “the service of the human community.”

At Georgetown, this is what is meant when we are called to be men and women for others, a phrase coined by Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the Jesuit Superior General elected in the midst of Vatican II. Social justice, the fruit of this Georgetown value, illuminates our dignity and brings our rights to fulfillment. Service works both ways. In serving others, we not only enhance their freedom; we enhance our own as well.

The Church is often thought of as an institution whose eyes are set above this world, promoting a theology of heavenly anticipation and ascetic forbearance. Even at Georgetown, many assume the Catholic faith discounts the joy, hope and suffering of this world, because it pales in comparison to what is to come in the next life. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the Church focuses relentlessly on renewing this world, and professing the birth of a new humanism. This renewal must be “founded on truth, built on justice and animated by love.”

Justice is attainable, but not without hope, joy, and love.

In this column, we will explore why these ideas matter to our world and to our university. We invite you to join us.


From the GK’s Desk: State of the Council 2018

Georgetown Knights of Columbus and Friends of the Council,

In preparation for the Spring 2018 semester, I would like to provide a statement summarizing both the current state of the council, as well as the direction we are hoping to take in 2018.

Regarding the official State of the Council:

Thanks to the work and vigilance of our former treasurer, Michael Poorten, and immediate past Grand Knight, Hunter Estes, our council’s budget was successfully managed and utilized to benefit our council and better serve others. Our new Treasurer, Chris Castaldi, will undoubtedly carry on this tradition of financial integrity.

Beyond simple numbers and commas, we have a strong and active membership—something the board will hope to maintain through several avenues. To foster the fraternal bonds which make the Knights a brotherhood, our Warden, Nicolo Orozco, is planning an array of events the likes of which this council has never seen. While reviving old favorites that he orchestrated last year, such as a group Wizards game and a poker night, he has designs to have a Super Bowl Bash, a group Georgetown game, a Knights Movie Night, and more. Not to mention Massketball, which the Worthy Warden will run with the legendary Trustee Geoff “Lonzo” Fitzgerald.

But like any group, our council has to bring in new members to maintain both the necessary numbers and a constant influx of fresh ideas. So, in addition to all of the events which our Warden has planned, our new Advocate, Luke Lamey, and Trustee, Richard Howell, will revitalize our mentorship program. By allowing the new members to choose their mentors, and then encouraging those pairs to attend events together, we can make our council more approachable and form lasting bonds between future and current Brother Knights. This will all be augmented by a new tabling campaign spearheaded by Inside Guard Andy Hanzlik—complete with weekly board tabling sessions, candy, and the hottest T-shirts—to make sure every Catholic gentleman on campus knows of our Brotherhood.

As in past years, our council’s commitment to being servants to our fellow man remains strong. Our incoming Advocate, Jack Przypyszny, will work with our Deputy Grand Knight, Ryan Anderson, to continue the ever-loved Grate Patrol. This, along with recurring events like card-making and working with the Northwest Pregnancy Center, will ensure that our members stay busy! Also, in the spirit of fostering fraternity, our council will seek to participate in larger service events, which allow large portions of our membership to commune and form memories in the context of service. Charity races offer excellent opportunities for such bonding; races like the Scope It Out 5K in March and the Relay for Life in April are just some examples our council plans to help run.

But none of these events and service would matter without the Catholic spirituality which gives both impetus and meaning to our work as Knights. Already, our Lecturer, Paul Keh, has spiritual discussions planned, working closely with MyLan Metzger of CWAG to keep Catholic thought and doctrine strong and accessible on campus. Not stopping there, Paul has also planned a house Mass, and promises more in the future. These Masses, along with Adoration and increased participation in the monthly L’Arche Prayer Nights, guarantee that we will all grow together in our love for Christ this semester.

To make our Catholic voice even more audible on campus, Our Worthy Recorder, Michael DeFelice, will continue to operate our blog, social media accounts, and, with Trustee, Melvin Thomas, and immediate past Deputy Grand Knight, Jack Segelstein, a Knights column in The Voice. To help with increasing our public presence, our council plans to designate a council “Historian”—a position which may be formalized in the future. This person would take pictures of the plethora of events our council offers, or ensure that members who do attend said events send him images of our members representing our Brotherhood out in the world. The goal would be, not only to provide evidence for advertising our council’s vibrancy to potential members, but also to document our good times and successes for posterity. Our Outside Guard, Victor Gamas, will also work with other faith groups on campus, giving the Knights the opportunity to bring Catholic thought to discussions at Georgetown.

Clearly, our council has laid out a very ambitious plan for the first semester of 2018. But with such a capable board and active membership, I am confident that we can not only meet our goals, but surpass them. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our blog for updates on what is sure to be an amazing few months!


Yours in Christ,

Robert Monsour

Building the Bonds of Brotherhood

Gentlemen of Georgetown,

I write to you, sadly, for my final time as the Grand Knight of the Georgetown chapter of the Knights of Columbus. However, I do not find the circumstances of my departure unfortunate. I am incredibly proud of how we, together, took this council to new heights. In this piece, I will offer a few reflections on what has been the best year of my life so far.

We pursued new opportunities to serve our community in Georgetown, in D.C., in our country, and in the world. We sought to deepen our relationship with Christ through a profound series of spiritual events. And we further strengthened the bonds of brotherhood that unites our community. For all of this, I am incredibly proud!

We sought new chances to build the spiritual foundation of our council with classic events like spiritual discussion dinners, house masses, spiritual adoration, and theology on taps with Friars and Jesuits.

We also found new ways to find God in our lives through a number of innovative events. We reflected on vocations with Dominicans and Jesuits. We led a spiritual pilgrimage to the John Paul II shrine with Fr. Hayes. We established a teaching series and engaged with Jesuits that we hadn’t before while learning about reconciliation and the mass. We supported the saying of the Latin mass at Georgetown. We institutionalized and expanded interfaith week into a much larger event, which brought together hundreds of community members, and culminated in our McGivney lecture with an incredibly well-attended panel on Catholic-Muslim understanding. We started a weekly group praying of the rosary, many of us led retreats, and we had multiple dinner conversations with Jesuits. We started a series of prayer sessions with the L’Arche community and Fr. Lawrence Lew gave a beautiful lecture to us on finding God in photography.

I am proud to say the spiritual state of our council is strong.

Weekly Spiritual Discussion Dinner

Our community came together in new ways and old to celebrate brotherhood. We held massketball every Wednesday, and even got Fr. Hayes to ref a game. We organized group trips to support the Wizards at a home game, play bocci at Pinstripes, and see Silence with a professor whose expertise is Japanese history. We watched a Super Bowl that included a divine intervention for the good guys (the Patriots). We fielded some great teams for intramural soccer and basketball. We absolutely crushed George Washington 26-6, and did a bit better against Mason than we did last year in the annual Brian Adkins Memorial Football game, which we organized on the National Mall this year.

We built brotherhood with more informal events as well like the March Madness playoff competition, the fantasy football league, and Wednesday wing nights. We had custom Knights shirts designed. We toured the Pentagon with General Marrs. We held a series of BBQ’s on Georgetown Day and to welcome people back in the Fall. We ate more pounds of pastrami than anybody could have thought possible with a series of trips to Stachowski’s, one of which included Fr. Hayes. We greatly expanded our Facebook, Twitter, and blog operations. We had the annual Catholic Formal with this year’s theme “When in Rome.” And, for the first time, we fielded a candidate for Mr. Georgetown, who got all the way through the talent portion.

The fraternal state of our council is strong.


Together, we spent countless hours serving the communities of which we are a part. We continued classic service events like grate patrol, interfaith sandwich making, and card making for hospitalized kids. We also continued our support for the Soweto Community by raising money and building our communal bond by engaging each other online and sending a video to the community.

We also found new ways to serve Georgetown, and people beyond the Hilltop. We started a series of card making for persecuted Christians overseas. We led a group to lay wreathes at the Arlington National Cemetery. We built a new relationship with the Jumpstart Community by volunteering at their after-school program and wrapping gifts for the kids. We strengthened our support for on-campus service by co-sponsoring a blood drive, and by organizing a group of guys to volunteer at the St. Elizabeth’s community. We continued our series of park cleanups by cleaning Walter Pierce. We also partnered with campus groups to support the placing of flags around Healy Hall in memory of all the innocent who were killed on 9/11. Finally, we organized a beautiful mass and ceremony to commemorate the Jesuit community on campus.

The state of service in our council is strong.

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Furthermore, we have continued our efforts to defend life by leading a group to the March for Life, co-sponsoring the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, getting the national council to send professional videographers to film the conference, and co-sponsoring this year’s Life Week.

I am incredibly proud of the work that we have done as a community over this past year. Surely we have grown as men, further developing our character, and are more prepared to take what we have gained here, in service to the world beyond the Hilltop.


I thank you all for trusting me to lead this council and I hope that I have done everything that you hoped to see. I am proud to call each of you my brothers.

Fraternally Yours in Christ,

Hunter B. Estes

The Reason We Pray

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By: Mike Rushka

I think many Catholics have a similar perception of what it means to be a good Christian. The most pious among us are often assumed to be those who go to Mass or pray most often. While prayer is certainly an essential component of the Christian life, on its own prayer doesn’t define who we are as Christians. It is absolutely possible to go to Mass regularly and set aside ample time for prayer yet still lose one’s focus on Christ and the message of the gospel. I say this because I speak from experience. I have often found myself simply going through the motions of daily Mass, regular prayer, and weekly confession while forgetting about the presence of God’s love in these spiritual exercises. During these periods of spiritual apathy, I find myself going to Mass and sitting down to pray simply out of habit, without reminding myself why I’m there. It is not prayer itself but this reason for prayer which lies at the center of the Christian faith.

The fourth century bishop St. Athanasius of Alexandria wrote that “God became enfleshed so that we might become engodded.” These words capture the essence of Christian spirituality. They explain why the Sacraments, and especially the Eucharist, are a necessity in the life of a Christian. “God became enfleshed” refers to the Incarnation of Jesus, to God becoming a man. God, who is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, went down into the darkest part of human dysfunction. He offered Himself up, facing one of the most feared methods of execution in history: Roman crucifixion. Through His crucifixion, God went to the furthest extremes of human brokenness. Why? God came down into the heart of human suffering to show us that nothing can stop His love from fixing us. For this reason, every time we pray or go to Mass, as Christians we beg God to fix our sinfulness. Being a good Christian means realizing the impossibility of living the Christian life on our own and asking God to come down into our brokenness.  This is the reason Christians pray and go to Mass. We want God to transform our lives and pull us out of the darkness of sin.

This desire for God to transform our lives and pull us out of the darkness of sin shows why Mass and prayer alone are not enough to live the Christian life. We must not only do these things, but we must also remind ourselves why we need prayer in our lives. It is through prayer and through the Mass that we allow God’s light to penetrate deep into the darkness of our sinful lives. When we forget how badly we need God’s grace in our lives, we forget how to pray. We forget that every one of our prayers is a helpless cry to God for help. We forget how badly we need God to form us into the people He intends for us to become. We forget we are Christians.

Why I Am a Catholic: One Year after Returning to Mass

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By: Jeffrey Cimmino

With some hesitancy, I have chosen to reflect on this subject using the same title that G.K. Chesterton employed over a century ago. I cannot come close to imitating Chesterton’s penetrating wit and wisdom, but I chose this title as an acknowledgement of his influence on my faith.

The Church, as Chesterton recognized, has had two thousand years to ponder which roads lead to error and confusion. Thinking is, therefore, essential to the Church’s mission and it thinks always in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Church, for the very reason that it must constantly think and act, is not a stagnant institution, but rather a living tradition.

The thinking element of the Church’s mission was beautifully summarized in Pope Saint John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio, Faith and Reason, but it can be seen throughout the Church’s history. “The Church has no other light than Christ’s,” states the Catechism, for “the Church is like the moon, all its light reflected from the sun.”

Catholicism is neither a philosophy nor an idea. It is intimately tied to the Jewish tradition in which God speaks to man in history, and man seeks to love, serve, and remember God. God, who had revealed Himself to Israel, unveiled Himself most fully in the Incarnation. The Catholic Church is founded on the Incarnation of the Son of God; on the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The revelation of the Son of God is the source of the Church’s life and mission. Through the apostles and their successors, the Church has passed down the memory of Christ, of God’s most profound encounter with man. Yet this is not just something past: The Christian hope, found in Christ, is both past and present – it is remembered and continually encountered in prayer and the sacraments.

The Church, however, has not rested smugly on its certainty that Christ revealed God’s love in His life, death, and Resurrection. On the contrary, from its earliest days, the Church has continually contemplated what the reality of Christ means in our moral decisions, our worship, our understanding of the world, and our relationship with God. The apostles, the early Fathers, the Scholastics, and so many others have profoundly uplifted the Church’s tradition. “The apostles,” says the Catechism, “entrusted the ‘Sacred deposit’ of the faith (the depositum fidei), contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church.” Within the depositum fidei, one finds a mutually enriching relationship between revelation and reason. The former is the source of the Church, inspiring and guiding the use of the latter. And yet the latter – particularly in the works of saints like Athanasius of Alexandria and Thomas Aquinas – has been immensely important in the life of the Church. Reason, within firm limits, can aid our understanding of God without the light of revelation; however, the Church recognizes that revelation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit enable reason to attain fuller understanding and to avoid paths to nowhere.

The Church’s theological and philosophical reflections are inseparably intertwined with the revelation of Christ. The latter inspires, guides, confirms, and gives authority to the former; the former, both to the extent it stands independent of revelation and to the extent it is dependent on revelation for understanding, serves to defend and enrich the faith.

The Church is not merely a stagnant thing, but as I already stated it is a living tradition, a tradition in which the faithful participate. Grounded in Christ, the Church provides forgiveness for us as sinners, consolation for us when we suffer, encouragement for us when we are weary, and the means to celebrate God’s great glory. The liturgy is, I think, the most beautiful example of the participatory nature of the Church, for in the liturgy we encounter Christ most intimately. In the liturgy, and especially in the Eucharist, the loving relationship of Christ and His Church is most clearly visible.

In brief, I marvel at the Church’s tradition of a prayerful relationship with Christ seamlessly connected to an intellectual exploration of the meaning of our encounter with Christ.

I conclude with a few more reasons I am a Catholic. The Catholic Church has apostolic authority – it is most assuredly the Church established by Jesus Christ. The apostolic roots of the Church mean its clergy, and especially its bishops, possess authority in matters of faith: to administer sacraments, to teach, and to faithfully pass on the Church’s tradition, shepherding Christ’s flock.

And then there are the saints, the variety of prayers, the beautiful art and music – all of these make the Church more vibrant. More importantly, they help us to deepen our relationship with God.


From The Hoya: The Mutuality Of Service

Originally published on November 8th 2017, this article was taken from the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus’s rotating column in The Hoya, entitled The Round Table. The column, written by members of the Georgetown University Knights of Columbus, appears online every other Wednesday. 


By: Nicolo Orozco

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4.

I was handcuffed by a police officer in front of my house the weekend before my high school graduation. Needless to say, I had made some mistakes. I had lost faith in myself, and I had lost faith in God.

For a while, I did not understand why I was being forced to go to a community college. I had always thought I was smart, but I was not. I may have performed well academically, but I was foolish when it counted.

I always thought I would graduate high school, continue to a four-year university and get a respectable job. Instead, I had to come to terms with the fact that I would not be moving out of my house and heading off to a university after high school as I had always dreamed.

I began spiraling into a deeper and darker depression, and I had little reason to hope things would improve. At the community college I attended, only 34 percent of students graduated or transferred after six years. I knew I could not spend another six years in my town.

One of my sister’s therapists suggested I volunteer at Camp ReCreation, a Jesuit-run summer camp in northern California that serves individuals with developmental disabilities. My sister has autism, and her therapist was once a volunteer at the camp herself.

Then, hardly a week after riding in the back of a police car toward what I thought was the end of my life, I found myself heading toward what would become a new beginning.

Yet, it did not feel that way in the moment. On the way to the camp, I viewed the week ahead as an obligation rather than an opportunity. However, it was a chance to escape, and that was what I needed.

When we arrived, I was paired with a camper in his mid-60s who has autism. Initially, I considered myself as just his helper, but he quickly became much more than a person I was responsible for — he became my friend. I was moved by his appreciation for the simplest things in life.

His profound love and gratitude made it seem like he was the one serving me, rather than the other way around.

Each camper I partnered with taught me a new virtue. The week my camper needed help in the bathroom, I learned humility. The week my partner was nonverbal, I learned patience and communication. The week my partner was in a wheelchair, I learned the importance of physical stamina; there are no wheelchair lifts in the middle of the woods.

Up to that point, I never felt God was a meaningful part of my life. But throughout my experience at camp, His presence overwhelmed me. I was originally supposed to be there for only one week of the three-weeklong camp, but I felt so rejuvenated and loved that I stayed for the full duration.

Despite not having gone in years, I found myself attending Mass at camp every day for three weeks straight.

Believers understand the Catholic Mass as the reenactment of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, in which the faithful receive his true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

God did not require me to ask because he knew it was exactly what I needed — spiritual cleansing and new friends who filled my life with the love of Him.

When I found myself hating humanity and myself, God called me to spend time with the most beautiful, loving humans I have known in my life. At camp, I could be who I truly am and, more importantly, be loved for who I am.

If not for camp, I would not have been able to transfer to Georgetown after a year of community college, nor would I have been moved to renew my faith and return to the Catholic Church.

In hindsight, it is clear that the campers helped me more than I helped them.

Service is a gift, not a burden. I think many Hoyas find this fulfillment to be true of their experience of service. No matter how busy, anxious or dejected we may feel, being women and men for others not only benefits our communities, but it is fulfilling and life-giving for us.

Serve and be served. Love and be loved.