By (Fr.) Michael Brennan (O. Praem.)
Serving in the Norbertine Volunteer Community opened my eyes to the profound need that exists in Green Bay; this awareness leads me to prayer and opens doors for me to be of service in the community.
—(Fr.) Michael Brennan (O. Praem.)
My name is Mike Brennan. I am a 1999 graduate of St. Norbert College and this August I will begin my novitiate with the Norbertines. As I reflect on my last several months with the Norbertine Volunteer Community, the word that best summarizes my experience is “humility.” I have been humbled by the vast needs of the community; I have been humbled by the situations I have witnessed; I have been humbled by my inability to “fix” the situation; I have been humbled by an awareness that God is present in all situations, even those that seem to indicate that He is furthest away.
A few examples of what I have witnessed include a five-year-old boy trying to comfort his grieving mother at the Golden House. This child, who should not have a care in the world, was forced into a situation of caretaker. I have listened to a man who was recently released from prison describe the court battle he is having to maintain custody of his children. Another man described his struggles with his recently-diagnosed Aspergers Syndrome. I have played cards with homeless men and women at St. John’s while 40 other men and women fall asleep on the floor just as they do every night. I have assisted at Paul’s Pantry where one to two hundred people come for food each day. Each of these experiences reminds me what a simple, yet complex people we truly are. We are all hungry; we are physically hungry and we are spiritually hungry for the love of God and the love of neighbor. We are hungry to be recognized as important individuals and as worthwhile members of society.
Although I cannot “fix” most of the challenges that face our worldwide community, I can be present and offer a smile, offer a reassuring word, or simply just be present and let others know that I care and that they are not alone. Sometimes this feels appropriate and is quite fulfilling, however there are times that it feels severely inadequate. At these moments, I try to step back and ask God to extend His love and support to those who seem to hunger so desperately for His enduring love.