Have you ever seen the Staples® back-to-school commercial? It shows parents joyfully filling their shopping carts with school supplies, gearing up to send their children back to school, while the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays in the background. Every time I see this commercial pop up, I have to admit that it does make me chuckle. More importantly though, I think about all of the teachers and school staff who also are preparing to begin a new year. I think, “How difficult it must be for them, now more than ever before!”
With Father’s Day approaching, we are busy with plans to properly celebrate the important men in our lives: the men who raised us, who supported us, who took care of our bumps and our bruises. We celebrate all fathers on this special day: biological, adopted, step, foster, and even those who answered the call to become priests.
There I was, a U.S. lay missionary traveling in an SUV full of African nuns on our way home from a long, hot day of mission work in the slums. Suddenly, we came across an armed robber. Might I just add that I have never driven in reverse so fast in all of my life! Even though I was raised in the country of Pennsylvania, where we participated in all sorts of somewhat reckless behaviors with our vehicles, this by far was beyond my wild childhood memories. At this particular moment in time, I was a 40-some year-old woman, finding myself grasping hands with religious Sisters, as the vehicle was suddenly shifted into reverse.
Easter is almost here. What does that mean for you? Christian tradition celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus and marks the end of Lent, which is a period of fasting or giving up certain treats. During the Easter Season, families have many celebratory traditions, such as egg hunts, Easter parades, and festive family dinners. And there is the matter of Easter candy...
In the past few weeks, I have received numerous phone calls from a priest friend in Philadelphia, Monsignor Vincent Walsh, who has been very supportive of the work I have done in Africa throughout the years. His spiritual support remains a big part of my life. During our recent phone calls, he’s asked me many questions about my conversion and my calling to missionary work. His current goal is to publish a book about my mission adventures. As I was sharing with him, one particular story came to my mind. It was a time that I felt like I was personally witnessing the “poor widow’s mite” (Mark 12:41-44) from the Gospel.
Can you believe that January 2021 is nearly at an end?! As I was brainstorming a topic for my first blog of the year, the words “a fresh start” kept coming to my mind. This thought brought back many memories of how I felt at one point during my time in the missions. It was a time where I had experienced feelings of nervousness and discouragement, sometimes even feeling as if my work as a missionary would be short lived. Let me elaborate.
Christmas is within days, and while the hustle and bustle is not quite the norm this year due to COVID-19, many of us are preparing with hopes of a bright, healthy New Year. During a recent trip to the grocery store I could hear the joyful holiday music playing. One holiday song in particular houses lyrics that I hold dear to my heart. The lyrics to this song bring back the memories of my first mission journey to Africa, which took place during the holiday season. Sung by the group Band Aid, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” was performed in 1984 as a fundraiser to support relief for the 1983-1985 Ethiopian famine.
With the holiday season upon us, being a missionary celebrating the holidays away from family and loved ones can be difficult. Missing familiar foods, aromas, and cultural traditions can leave you questioning God’s will for your mission calling. Although poverty certainly exists in many places around the world, not all missionaries leave their homeland to serve the poor. During this Thanksgiving Season, let us remember our roots in the United States, in particular where there is suffering within our Native American communities.
During this World Mission Month of October with its theme rom Isaiah - "Here I am, send me!" - I started to reflect about my own faith calling. Everyone's calling is unique.
And to put my story in perspective, I go back to a mission experience "after the call."
Let me start with the obvious: The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world and rewritten what we consider “normal.” Every part of our lives has been impacted to some degree: how we live together and interact with each other on a daily basis; how we work and communicate; how we shop; even how we eat, drink, and enjoy our leisure time. During these times, I felt as if I was starring in the film Groundhog Day, reliving the same day over and over again.