Editor’s Note: The following is part of our daily holiday series celebrating “The Shared World.”

It started with a story. It was Holy Week of my senior year of high school and I was volunteering with Bissonnette House, a home for recently released convicts looking to get back on their feet.

While we took a break from spring cleaning, Dennis told us about his three times in prison, each one because of drugs. He talked about how hard it was to start over when all you had to work with was $40 and the clothes you came in with. As he spoke, the feeling of “that’s not right” settled into my gut and pushed me do more.

Less than a year later, I found myself serving dinner each week at a soup kitchen in Scranton, PA followed by a dinner date with my friends in the dining hall. The disparity in access to food shocked me, again thinking, “that’s not right.”

In Frenchville, PA I met Lois—she was well-off but craved company. She and Sr. Suzanne taught me that listening to stories is important, that poverty is any need that is not being met.

In San Lucas, Guatemala, myself and eleven others were given the chance to take part in the funeral celebrations for a priest, who we had never met, that had started the mission that had profoundly impacted this town.

As we listened to the stories about Fr. Greg from those who knew him or were affected by his presence, I began to understand what mission should be about— walking with the people, being with them, and offering what you have with nothing being forced. Before you do, you first had to be.

Last year, as a youth minister I heard stories from countless teens. Some were happy stories about new friends, getting into college, finally finding people to be comfortable with. Others were less so as I heard about fights with parents, eating disorders, loneliness, and struggles with the faith.

It was the greatest blessing of last year, hearing people share their stories and watching community form, watching a sense of peace come over them as they found a space to be vulnerable and be themselves.

It reminds me of Mother Teresa’s quote, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” At the heart of it is an invitation to relationship, an invitation to share one’s story and create community, create peace.

It’s part of why I chose FMS—because we emphasize sharing stories. Stories have always been something that has changed me, and have the greatest chance of impacting others in the world to become active members for change.

Closing retreat prayer service

Closing retreat prayer service

Share Christ’s Peace this Christmas: Give a Gift to FMS Read more stories of “The Shared World”