Matthew 25 program encourages service to others

Giovanni Lanfranco, "Miracle of the Bread and Fish", circa 1620 (Wikimedia Commons)

AIKEN—Helping people discover the various ways that God calls them to serve others is the focus of a new program developed by Catholic Charities of South Carolina. 

“Matthew 25”, launched recently in Aiken, is inspired by Christ’s teaching about service as a requirement for those who want to be His disciples. The chapter includes the well-known verse “And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

At a kickoff workshop held at St. Mary Help of Christians Church, people from parishes around the Aiken Deanery learned about the central role that service should play in their lives. They were asked to consider ways they can serve in their parishes and communities through Catholic Charities programs. Future workshops will follow the same pattern and rotate around the state. 

James Kaiser, director of social ministry for the Diocese of Charleston and executive director of Catholic Charities, said the agency offers volunteers a chance to evangelize through their work. 

“Through our baptism, we are called to be a witness for our faith in the community,” Kaiser said. “Volunteering with Catholic Charities is a chance for us to show the light of the Church to others.” 

A panel discussion featured people from various ministries in the Aiken area, who gave examples of different forms of service.

Joely Leguizamon discussed her work as administrator of Our Lady of the Valley Center in Gloverville, which is run by Catholic Charities and serves the needy in a string of small towns in Horse Creek Valley. The center offers a food pantry, clothing closet, GED classes and a senior program, and also provides assistance with other needs. 

“I see the inspiration of Matthew 25 every time we serve the people who come to us,” Leguizamon said. “I’ve learned that a true relationship with the Lord calls me to be His hands and His feet working with others, and that the people we serve bring us closer to Christ.” 

Chris Ascherman, a father of five who attends St. Mary Help of Christians Church, said he and his wife serve in their parish by teaching Baptism preparation classes, leading Bible study, and more. He said helping others learn about their faith and strengthen their relationship with God is a crucial way that people can serve. 

“If God hasn’t changed my heart and taught me how to serve, how can I change the life of my kids?” he asked. “Through my actions of service, my hope is that my children will be inspired to go forth and do the same thing.” 

Nancy Joyce, a member of Our Lady of Peace Church in North Augusta, talked about her years working as executive director of Community Ministry of North Augusta, an interdenominational group of more than 20 churches that offers help to the city’s poor. Joyce said getting the entire family involved in service is a great way to teach children how to put their faith in action.

“Serving the community is an opportunity for us to show the people what a true Catholic is,” Joyce said. “Service is also a chance to get our young people involved and give them a tangible example of Christ’s love.”