Seminarian Reflection by Peter Langenkamp
This summer I was incredibly blessed to work with the poor of Chicago alongside a newly formed community of religious known as the Franciscans of the Eucharist. This Franciscan community was established as part of an initiative to bring a Catholic presence to an area of Chicago weighed down by poverty, gangs, and violence. They perform this apostolate through a variety of means including providing roughly 700 families with food on a monthly basis and providing programs for the youth of the area. During my ten weeks working in Chicago, I spent the majority of my time helping run a camp to keep children engaged in healthy activities while also keeping them out of trouble and off the streets. In addition to this work I also assisted with monthly food and clothing drives, upkeep of the local mission church, and other forms of outreach to the poor of the area.
The greatest insight I gained through this summer experience was the profound link between an internal life of prayer and external acts of service. As I worked beside the Franciscans of the Eucharist, I was impressed by their demanding work schedule and their commitment to a life of prayer amid constant acts of service towards the impoverished of the area. Working alongside them gave me a new insight into the scripture passage carved above our seminary entrance: “Caritas Christi Urget Me” (The love of Christ urges me on). It is that Love, maintained through a life of deep prayer, which is the source and impetus for Christian service. Only through that Love are we able to lead lives of service day in and day out. Christ must always remain at the center of this activity and be its source, for as I learned from the Franciscans over the summer: “If you can’t see Jesus in the Eucharist, you can’t see Him in the poor.”
To learn more about the Franciscans of the Eucharist click on the link: