The Origins of Orientation

By René Betance, written 9/16/2016


If you have ever been new to any program or group, orientation is a frequent part of that experience. In my life, it has seemed like a burden. Just another monotonous task before I finally get to the fun stuff. I am someone who likes to jump right in, no need for instructions. I can figure it out on-the-job! As the second full week of my Vincentian Volunteer of Cincinnati year of service comes to a close, I am beginning to reassess my feelings on the word “orientation.”

The origins of the word orientation have a very evident root: orient. I am reminded of the Orient Express when I hear that. More importantly however, orient refers to direction. I graduated from Xavier University with a sense of purpose and identity. I knew that I wanted to pursue an intentional life where my decisions take many dimensions into account: the earth, the community, my family. I wanted to work in justice, taking my talents to pursue equity and equality in this world.

All of this was, unfortunately, without direction. One might say that I needed to be oriented. VVC orientation to the ways of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has served not just to orient my next year, but to orient my purpose and identity. I do not yet know where this will take me, but I can already see that I’m headed in the right direction.

Today also marks the end of my first retreat in my primary role as the Ozanam Center Coordinator. This means that I will be leading a significant amount of retreats throughout the year. I found myself absorbing an immense amount of information over the past few days. Nothing can be more humbling than seeing, not just how unprepared you are, but how amazingly prepared your co-workers are. Megan is a pro, a true veteran of the retreats.

This is one of the many ways that God has very evidently taught me a lesson in humility. In this lesson of humility, I am reminded that I still have so much to learn. In this lesson, I can hear the words of my mother, “Patience is a virtue!”

As this retreat ended, the high school retreatants and I are called to trust the process. This is my challenge and my orientation. The origins of orientation, my orientation, will be lessons I will reflect on all year. It’s only just begun.


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