As my grade 10 year at Chaminade College School came to a close, I once again ran for Student Council hoping to continue with a third year on the Council for the 2017-2018 school year. I have been involved in Student Councils ever since Elementary School. From the moment I walked through the doors of Chaminade College School in September 2015, I knew I wanted to participate in Student Council and other religious activities. I was elected by my peers to be one of the two gr. 9 representative. In May 2016, I was re-elected by the student body to be part the Student Council for the current school year, 2016-2017. This past Wednesday May 24, 2017 was the elections for the Student Council for the 2017-2018 school year. The results were announced yesterday morning on the announcements yesterday Thursday May 25. I was surprised and humbled at my election to vice-presidency (vice-chair) of the Student Council, something I would have never expected since I stepped foot into Chaminade College School almost two years ago.
Going through the halls with others recognizing who this, “Vincent Pham” guy was, I was humbled. I have informed my friends that I am still the same old Vincent Pham, vice-president or not. I never expect to get high positions or even to get many votes. I entrust everything into the hands of God and go with His will. Now that I look ahead into the future with responsibilities in my hands, I have reminded myself of that call to serve others in faith, hope and charity. It has come to my attention that the higher your position is anywhere in life, the more you must serve others, not the other way around.
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mt 20:28) I believe this will be my motto for the remaining of my time on Student Council. Many people often want to seek high positions, or what many call “rankings” in a hierarchy. The key that many want is power because with power, one can control other people with it so other may go with their wants, their taste. Yet, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28) Jesus, most supreme in power because He is true God, did not come so that others may be His servants. Rather, Christ humbly came to earth without majesty, “taking the form a slave” (Phil 2:7). This was evident through Jesus’ act of washing the feet of His disciples before the Last Supper (cf. Jn 13:1-17).
All of this brings me back to an event I took part in last year. The one-day program hosted by TCDSB called, A Catholic Call To Serve (ACCTS) was not only a day of prayer, Mass and discussions. However,it was a day I really learned the true meaning of Catholic service. Students were assigned to volunteer at different charities and shelter in Toronto. I was blessed to volunteer at Mary’s House in Downtown along with some other of my brothers and Chaminade College School. I do have to comment that the work was not as easy as I thought. We were to clean the baseboards of three floors. Each student wore gloves and used sponges to scrub those baseboards. Afterwards, I commented jokingly to one of my friends, “Today was one of those days when you really don’t want to be a Catholic (LOL)!” I went home that day reflecting on what I have done that day and realized that Jesus did similar acts too.
The higher the position one is in, the more service they must do. Those ordained to Holy Orders are called to serve. Priests, though they are called “Father”, wears beautiful vestments for Mass and using such fancy chalices, all of that would mean nothing without service. Same with Bishops and above. They are called by the people as “Your Excellency”, wear such beautiful mitres, hold elaborate croziers and wear elegant pectoral crosses, these insignia would mean nothing without service. We can see in the Popes after the Second-Vatican Council, especially in Pope Francis. Those days of the gestora and the Papal Tiara are now gone. The vestments worn by the Pontiff are much simpler. Yet, their acts of service are great and becoming more visible to the Christian people to show that even those of high authority are called to serve the people, not to be served. This should be the case not only with the Supreme Pontiff but with ALL World Leaders and those with authority. Prime Ministers or presidents and their companions should be the ones serving the people of the country, not to be served by the people of the country. Sadly, this is the case in many countries where citizens are forced to work for the glory of the government.
Since my time on the Student Council, I have looked up to Cardinal Blase Cupich, now Archbishop of Chicago. He was student council president in his senior year of high school in 1967. Now he is now Archbishop and was elevated to the College of Cardinal in November 2016. According to Fr. James Martin S.J., he is one of the most influential men in the U.S. church. With all the titles, Cardinal Cupich has never failed to stop serving. To me, he is, like Pope Francis a model of humble service.
I believe that service should be placed at the centre at a leader’s life. One should use their high position in an organization to do what is best for the community, not self centred. Christ could had come to make all of us serve Him because He is the King. Yet, Jesus did not do that. He said, “I do not call you servants any longer[…]but I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15). Those days of servant and king were gone. We must be people of service because, “whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).