Victor Staruszkiewicz is from Toronto, Canada, and has a background in Nursing. Victor (left) is pictured with other House of Discernment participants Schafer Knostman (center) and Jack Manning while serving at The Catholic Worker St. Joseph House in Lower East Manhattan. Below, Victor reflects on current challenges he faces in understanding his call to serve the poor:
While on my way from the Friary of Our Lady of Atonement in Manhattan to do some exercise, I met a man who requested money for something hot to eat, or to buy some long underwear. He did not want anything I could share with him in terms of clothing and food. As we talked he grieved about how people would give him food they already started eating and could not even finish and that this was degrading to his dignity; he said he was also eating his first hot meal in two days. This event revealed to me my limitation in being able to procure items for the needs of the poor at street level. I considered the way I am making a difference in the life of the poor with my fellow brother discerners, as with our current ministry at The Catholic Worker St. Joseph House in Lower East Manhattan. There we help provide food, clothing, hygiene items, washroom service and temporary and long term housing for those in need. Most poignantly, I considered my situation of having no disposable income, and having to rely on benefactors.
I and those who choose religious life impoverish ourselves and are not able to individually perform magnanimous or frequent acts of charity for those begging on the streets. We may instead need to work in places like St. Joseph’s House. Helping the poor may also need to be done in ways that are already established within the religious community, such as helping people suffering from addictions, as is done by the Friars of the Atonement at St. Christopher’s Inn.
Personally it is difficult for me to believe that I am pleasing to God in passing by people in need when before I could help them when I had an income. Perhaps the Little Way of St. Therese, which is about doing everyday tasks and duties with love for Him, can be a source of help for me and all those who give up their lives for God and others in the process of discernment and religious life.