As has been documented in countless songs, movies, stories and other media, it is impossible to ignore the impact that the Christmas season has on our overall mood. For many of us, we experience great joy, love, and togetherness. For all too many, the holiday season signifies stress, depression, sadness and loneliness.
It is easy to lose sight of those among us who are not experiencing joy this time of year. However, it is particularly heartwarming to see fellow community members devoting their time and resources to less fortunate neighbors, whether through organized gift drives or merely spending time with those in need of love or friendship.
Contributing responsibly is one of the four dispositions that underlay a Loras College education. Responsible contributors to professions, societies and faith communities develop their talents and share them with others in ways that respect a global environment and are sensitive to cultural differences. Loras students regularly demonstrate service to others in responsible ways.
The importance of civic responsibility is paramount to the success of any community. Through our witness and actions, we ensure a better society that acknowledges every individual and empowers her or him to contribute in a like manner. As a community built on a bedrock of faith and committed to the common good, Dubuque has shown repeatedly it is capable of strengthening itself when we support each other.
There are countless ways we can contribute responsibly, many of which we may take for granted. From volunteering time at a shelter or food bank to providing monetary support to not-for-profit organizations, simple sharing of our time can go a long way to improving the well-being of our neighbors.
Being a responsible contributor is more than putting forth large-scale efforts and organized events. Reaching out to individuals who need encouragement can make a powerful impact. We are all different, but sometimes those differences mentally obstruct our work in building relationships. By taking the time to learn our similarities and common ground, we can bridge the gap between isolation and inclusivity. Listening to those who do not know how to share their voices can make a significant change.
The greatest result of our efforts to contribute to the community is the way that contribution manifests itself in others. The more we work to raise others, the stronger those we help become, and the more likely they become active contributors to our community. As we help each other, responsible contributors multiply in number and teach the next generation of the importance of taking care of one another.
I have the good fortune of experiencing “good works” in action every day as I witness our students, faculty and staff embrace each other’s differences while working toward a better tomorrow in service to others. As such, it is a great privilege to serve as the leader of a Catholic higher education institution. It is also a blessing to be a part of the Dubuque community where so many “good works” are happening, too.
May your Christmas and holiday season be so blessed that the spirit carries for through each year. We all have an obligation to be responsible contributors to our community so that all of God’s children can thrive and participate in meaningful ways.