Finding God on Gannon’s Campus: Service and Community

Ariel Farren

Outside of prayer and scripture reading, the best way to feel close to God is to serve others as he commanded. I have always felt as my greater purpose and the way to find meaning in my life was by volunteering. I have felt called to help others in any way feasible. As told in 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.” I have shown love through my acts of service to others here on Gannon’s campus

Going to college, I knew that volunteering was something I wanted to continue. At Gannon, I am surrounded with service opportunities and others who love to give back. Throughout my time at Gannon, I have had the opportunity to go on two Alternative Break Service Trips (ABST) and join Gamma Sigma Sigma, a service sorority. These organizations have allowed me to serve others in ways I would have never imagined.

My first ABST was to San Lucas, Guatemala. The San Lucas Mission continues the legacy of the Rev. Greg Schaffer, the founder of the Mission, by listening, responding to and walking in solidarity with the people of San Lucas by supporting them in health care, education, agriculture, construction, charity and advancement. The people of Guatemala were nothing but welcoming and kind. I easily fell in love with the people and the culture I was surrounded by. Despite the poverty and conditions they lived in, each person radiated joy and love immensely. They were very grateful for all that they had, even if it was little. This experience taught me to be mindful and to appreciate all that I have.

My second service trip led me to L’Arche, Ontario. This type of service differed greatly from the physical service I was used to doing. L’Arche homes are people with and without intellectual disabilities that share life and friendships in community. I spent the week simply being present with those around me. The core members of L’Arche showed us joy and love through simplicity. A smile and laughter were the only forms of communication needed. The love and joy we felt was found in the little things, such as watching “Batman” with David or drinking my morning coffee with Doris. The simple actions that we often wouldn’t think too much of is how we formed bonds with the beautiful community of L’Arche. Coming back from this experience, I’m able to appreciate and see the love around me so much more.

Both ABSTs were very different in their sense, but still expressed the same love and joy from all those around. I could not explain how much gratitude I have for being able to serve with these two communities.

Through Gamma Sigma Sigma, I have been able to experience more than I ever could have imagined. Gamma Sigma Sigma is a national service sorority that promotes a lifelong commitment to service. Our chapter (Eta Pi) strives to bring meaningful service to the Gannon and Erie community, such as preparing and serving food to the homeless, providing companionship with those at the Soldiers and Sailors Home, cleaning neighborhoods, etc. Now serving as president, I have the opportunity to further the change we bring. Despite the abnormalities of this year and semester, we have not stopped serving and instead gave back to Erie businesses/organizations that we have previously volunteered with by making donation baskets.

Through these different service opportunities, I have experienced, I have built community not only with my groups, but also with the communities we serve. The bond built is truly inexplicable. Being surrounded by like-minded people with the same intent on spreading the love of God through acts of service is euphoric in a sense. Seeing the love that each community has for God despite their situations is soul-stirring. Here on Gannon’s campus, I find God through the plentiful service opportunities that our campus offers.

[email protected]

Serving others as the Bible suggests can help one feel closer to God. (Unsplash)