Peace Corps volunteers learned about universality of church

Transformed by experience

In the beginning, Monica Oliver figured with her college education and her US upbringing, she'd help transform a poor community. But looking back, the Peace Corps volunteer living in Mali knows it was the community that transformed her.

- Catholic News Service

'I gained a lot of perspective on love, and human beings, and how to be a decent person,' she said.

In Mali, greetings matter. A perturbed postmaster once withheld her mail for weeks when he felt she was rude to focus on checking her mailbox without talking to him.'The experience put me in my place and to this day it serves as a reminder to me that it does not pay to be too busy or self-important to ask after another person's well-being,' she told The Georgia Bulletin, Atlanta's archdiocesan newspaper Oliver and others recalled fondly being stationed in developing countries as they served in the Peace Corps.

The experience revealed the world to them and opened their eyes to the global church.The Peace Corps is one of President John F Kennedy's uplifting legacies. Former volunteers talked about their life-changing experiences as the country marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination November 22, 1963.

Oliver's Catholic faith spurred her to join the Peace Corps out of a desire to serve others. It was in the Muslim country of Mali she learned a deeper way to live her faith.'It's just like that part of the prayer of St. Francis: "It's in giving you receive." I'm the one who received,' she said. Oliver's project from 2000 to 2002 focused on microfinance.

A $25 loan would be enough for women to open a business. She laughed at how the project was assigned to her despite her knowing little about banking. She majored in romance languages at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Oliver, now 39, attended Mass when she could but found other ways to practice the faith. In a predominantly Muslim country, she didn't live it 'very loudly.' Catholic with a small 'c' means universal.

FULL STORY Volunteers say in Peace Corps they learned about universality of church (Catholic News Service)

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