The Needs of the World and My Own Heart:
Reflections on Vocational Roots

Kelly Orbik

When I learned my first spring break service trip in March 2003 would be to South Omaha, I was more than a little disappointed. Since I am from Papillion, Nebraska (near Omaha), I wanted to do my service work in another part of the country, to experience something new and different. Yet what I discovered was an unknown—and compelling—community right in my own backyard. Prior to that week, my knowledge of and involvement in South Omaha’s Latino community had been limited to shopping in its Mexican grocery stores. We students were welcomed in the homes of Latino host families for the weekend. The family Emily Warming and I stayed with spoke little English. We began forming a connection with our host mom by helping her sort beans and make tacos while singing along with an Enrique Iglesias CD. The rest of the week, we helped at the parish mission, met with community leaders, and learned a lot about meat packing and immigration.

“When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change,” 1 said Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus. “Personal involvement with the innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer, is the catalyst for solidarity, which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry.” 2 Meeting my host family, hearing the stories of workers and shop owners made issues real to me.

That week in South Omaha had quite an impact on me. I returned to Creighton wanting to give back to the community that had welcomed me so warmly. I wanted to help change the social structures that were oppressing people there. Yet this sense of vocation came not as the result of a vision, dream, or prayer, but through a series of decisions and initiatives that felt natural and genuine. For a start, I realized, I need training and guidance. Mentors and friends at Creighton encouraged and helped lead me. We also talked about possibilities after graduation, such as volunteering. We wanted to continue to see where our skills and the world’s needs met.

My first practical step was to continue tutoring English as a second language with the Center for Service and Justice weekly service, Omaha Public Schools Adult Education program. Having learned the difficulty of a language barrier, I wanted to help others. It was also a great way to meet community members. Also, I changed my major from Biology to Justice and Society and Spanish, a double major. During spiritual direction, says Larry Gillick, S.J., discernment should feel like water pouring into a sponge, not water bouncing off a rock. This image helped me as I went forward.

Looking at the needs of the world and into my own heart, I was propelled to go on more service trips each year across the country and abroad, as well as on retreats in order to learn about simplicity, reflection, community, and justice. I attended Justice in Higher Education, Ignatian Spirituality, and Social Ministry conferences along with students from other Jesuit colleges and high schools so I could find out what they were doing to help bring their campuses’ pursuit of Jesuit values into the twenty-first century: switching to fair trade, sweat free, living wages, and green buildings. Today, I am studying conflict resolution and living in an intentional community with other Creighton alumni. Having spent time on service trips or volunteering after graduation, we come together to share our faith and to support each other in our work as men and women for and with others. Asking ourselves where people are being crucified today and what can we do to help take them down from their crosses is a constant struggle. This community will send us forth to various vocations: to finish medical school, or to non-profit jobs or community projects, all to use our gifts to serve the needs of the world.



1. “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education,” address given at the University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California, October 6, 2000.

2. Ibid.

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