Each year the Ragin' Cajun Catholics have a special week of Giving, coinciding with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Homecoming Week. This week is always one of my favorite weeks of the year--the generosity of the Catholic community is incredibly humbling, the willingness of the students to be part of our zany video series is always endearing, but the tireless efforts of our staff to keep this mission to form lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ going is perhaps what is most inspiring.
If you know any college students, have raised any college students, or were yourself a college student you know that it takes a lot of food to fuel the late nights of studying... and other collegial activities. And as I often remind the students, chicken fingers ain't free. The vast majority of our students are on scholarship and still must work 1-2 side jobs in order to make ends meet, especially with book expenses often over $1000. We are blessed that our Catholic Student Center is attached to Our Lady of Wisdom Parish, but as the geographic boundaries of the parish are the campus itself, we are not your typical Church parish. In addition to our incredible parishioners, we rely on the generosity of those outside of the parish to help keep the lights on and the college children fed (both physically and spiritually). One of the ways we do this is through our RCC Ministry Partners. Our Ministry Partners commit to monthly electronic gifts that help us to budget and sustain our ministry--particularly in the summer when things are fairly quiet on campus (but we still need to run the AC because... Louisiana).
During our annual drive two things help to inspire generosity--one is the generosity of others in the form of a Matching Gift. Any gifts pledged this week (2017) will be matched dollar for dollar up to $30,000 by a collection of very generous benefactors. Another motivating factor is our themed video series... here's a taste of last year's cinematic magic:
We currently have over 250 Ministry Partners, whose generosity provides about 10% of our annual budget. This week we celebrate those patrons through FriendsGiving Week: The 2017 Ministry Partner Challenge. Our goal is to add 75 NEW or INCREASED monthly gifts to the Ministry Partner team. The way we are hoping to accomplish that this week is to invite all current ministry partners to challenge their friends to join them as Ministry Partners. Imagine if I am giving $25/month and was able to get one other friend to join me with a $25/month gift or two friends--one giving $15/month and the other giving $10/month--I would be doubling the impact my small gift is making on the lives of hundreds of college students!
Bicycle Built for Two
Because this year's theme revolves around the idea of "Bring a Friend" we chose a bicycle built for two as our logo. But a bicycle built for two also has a spiritual significance. I don't know if I had ever seen a bicycle built for two in person before we filmed our first video (you can see a sneak peak below...) but what surprised me is how difficult it is to ride! I guess that's what brought to mind its spiritual significance. Our lives are bicycles built for two--and we often try to ride them without any help.
Jesus needs a seat on your tandem bike. Often we're hardheaded and try to ride alone--big mistake. That's too much bike for one person. Other times we say, "Okay, Jesus, you can ride, but I'm steering." There is goodness in this image--letting Jesus do some of that heavy pedaling for us... allowing Him in a little. Of course what would be better is letting Jesus steer the bike... Jesus take the handlebars. Notice--even if Jesus is steering, we're not just taking a free ride--we're supposed to pedal too. The yoke may be light but it's a yoke. We have to do part of the work. I often wish life were just a pedicab with Jesus driving, but He wants us involved in the action (p.s. is it just me or do most pedicab drivers look a little like Jesus but maybe more homeless). There is a beauty in this pedaling. There is a joy in matching the rhythm of our lives with the rhythm of Christ's pedaling--but there will also be sweat.
My prayer for all of us this week is that we let Jesus on the tandem bike and particularly that we let Him steer. I ask that you also pray for the success of our Ministry Partner Challenge Week, and that you prayerfully consider joining the effort: www.RaginCajunCatholics.org/Donate.
Each post this week will feature one of our videos! Enjoy!!
P.S. How cute are my students?