The federal holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was first celebrated in 1986 on the third Monday in January, after President Ronald Reagan established the holiday in November 1983. In 1994, Congress passed legislation dedicating the holiday as a National Day of Service. This is a fitting tribute that reminds Americans of Dr. King’s great life of service and sacrifice in the civil rights movement.
He was an advocate for service: “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, would certainly agree with Dr. King that how we serve is just as important as what we do. Catherine encouraged action, saying “the poor need help today, not next week.” But she also said that “our charity must be cordial … something that renews, invigorates and warms.” Service should never be condescending and must recognize each person’s essential dignity. Each person served is made in the image and likeness of God and so deserves our respect.
Share how you, your family or your community are joining in on the Day of Service. Use this link to send a short description and upload any pictures of how you joined in on this day dedicated to serving others.
The websites below can help you find a place to volunteer in your area: