Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

Fifty years will have passed this coming April 4 since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. As it is with most martyrs, Dr. King remains an influential person in the areas he championed, including racial and social justice, and more generally in what it means to serve one’s brothers and sisters.

Every Jan. 15 the United States celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which reminds the nation of Dr. King’s hope for and vision of the United States as a country that truly manifests in its communities the ideals of freedom, justice, equality, and peace.

January also happens to be National Mentoring Month, which highlights the need for, and encourages adults to become, mentors to youth; to help young people know their inherent value and contribute their unique gifts to their communities.

Catholic Charities has long understood the value of mentoring as a service to youth who need guidance and care. Through its agencies across the United States, Catholic Charities provides opportunities for men and women to mentor young people who need a caring, adult presence in their lives.

Dr. King is a good model for mentors to follow. He served well his brothers and sisters – indeed, the whole nation – despite great costs to himself. He realized that with faith in God and love for all, a person could be an agent of change not only in the lives of others but also in the various relationships within society. Faith and active charity yoke a person to the victory of Jesus, who shows the way to perfect justice and peace.

Mentors have an opportunity to be an agent of change in the lives of the young people whom they support. And National Mentoring Month is a great time to take the first step toward becoming a mentor. You can help young people reach their full potential, and you can model for them a spirit of service and a thirst for solidarity. Call the Catholic Charities agency closest to you today to see how you can be a mentor.

If you don’t think you have the skills or the character, remember what Dr. King said: “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”