Super Bowl 2014 is long gone but it left me with an idea.
I should make clear: I am not a sports enthusiast, but I live in a family that is passionate about sports. They call and text back and forth during sporting events with elation or distress depending on how their team is faring. So while I do not fully participate, I am aware of and appreciate their engagement.
Every year the Super Bowl generates huge amounts of money, energy and hype that starts months in advance, permeates every form of advertising and retail business and has almost become a national holiday with parties that rival New Year’s Eve.
And for some of us, it prompts discussion of what might happen if even a fraction of this money made and energy spent were used to help men, women and families in need.
So why not create an annual Super Bowl of Service at the parish? One weekend a year set aside for service to benefit of the community?
Such a weekend could include renovation projects — painting or building a covered lunch area for a homeless shelter or school. It could connect older people in assisted living facilities with families that would take them under their wing. It might mean clearing a suitable outdoor space and planting a community garden, or helping frail elderly people who are living independently in their own homes to complete projects that would make their lives a bit more secure.
Students needing help with schoolwork could receive tutoring help --- maybe from older students, maybe from some of the elderly being assisted. The list for what might take place — during such a weekend and afterward — is endless and limited only by the imagination of parishioners.
The intergenerational and intercultural interaction that such activities could generate, working together for the common good, could only benefit both parish and community.
Such a project could be introduced at weekend liturgies well in advance, enabling maximum participation among organizations and individuals, and to assess and determine needs, and what parishioners can best accomplish. And after the weekend, participants can gather for a parish celebration where they can reflect on what has been done, and what can be done in the future.
We talk so often about building community, being welcoming and putting our parish mission statements into practice. A Super Bowl of Service might be one opportunity to do all of this simultaneously, to live the Gospel call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and comfort the distressed (as suggested, coincidentally, in St. Matthew’s Gospel for Monday, March 10).
And you don’t need to be a sports fan to participate.
Anne Hansen is a member of the Camarillo Catholic community and regional director for Ignatian Volunteer Corps Los Angeles.