BY SR. MARIE LUCEK, OP

Several years ago a movement called Random Acts of Kindness began, a movement encouraging us to do kind deeds for strangers, such as paying the fees for others on toll roads or buying someone a cup of coffee. I had a t-shirt with this slogan written in big bold letters.

This year is a variation on this theme in Juneau. Under the initiative of the Police Department, 2017 has been designated as the ‘Year of Kindness’ in Juneau. What this
means is that every resident is asked to do one act of kindness each day for the entire year. Once a week we are asked to reach out to someone not usually in our familiar groups, such as someone from a different culture, religion, ethnic background, etc. The goal of this endeavor is to improve the well-being of our community by: lowering the crime rate, having fewer hospital visits, and improving the over-all health of its citizens. Another goal is to reach across various kinds of boundaries in order to become a more united community.

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We see kindness manifested in so many ways every day in our diocese that this shouldn’t be a difficult request for us. As disciples of Christ we know we have already been called to care for our neighbor. Reaching out to strangers or those not currently in our social groups is what we have always been encouraged to do.

Each organization or group in the city has been asked to take a week when kind acts will be highlighted to the whole community, a type of “kindness surge.” Our parish has chosen February 19-25. To help us plan for our week we will be soliciting suggestions from our parishioners on how we as a parish can make more visible our kind acts during this week.

In the meantime residents of Juneau are asked to journal about their kindnesses and to post them online. A Facebook page is being set up for this purpose. With this emphasis on being kind to one another and highlighting acts of kindness my hope is that the negativity we experienced in 2016 will be replaced by more hopeful and positive attitudes in 2017.