My call to staff began five years after my “adult” decision to live my faith at 15 years old. Following that great initial transformation, my time was filled with a variety of things that I was doing for my faith. Helping with retreats, youth groups, and diocesan youth events filled in the time that wasn’t taken up with school and sports. While some of these things were indeed “missionary” in nature, I had yet to discover my true missionary heart. I did these things simply because they were the next “holy” thing to do.
When I graduated high school and all those things I had been involved in dropped away, I was left to wonder, “how do I really live and share my faith on my own?”
Troubled by challenges in this area but optimistic that university life would provide some great opportunities to grow in my faith, I went to the Fall Retreat that September. I had been praying that it would be a big moment for me, but Friday night came and went and I felt like I had received nothing. Saturday morning came and went: nothing. With adoration coming up that night, I thought “okay, this is the time: God is going to hit me with it!” But adoration started and… nothing. Finally I just let go of my plan for the weekend and prayed that God would work powerfully in the lives of the others at the retreat, trusting that He was doing something in my life even though I couldn’t feel it. It’s funny how He’d already turned my heart away from myself and toward others, given what happened that night and the years that followed.
Now it gets a little difficult to explain in words. I was feeling… nothing. They had people you could pray with at the back during Adoration and I was overcome with a desire to have them pray for me to receive a “spirit of evangelization.” While I asked them for this I was thinking in my head, “what am I even talking about? I don’t really even know how to do this ‘e-word’ that I can barely spell!” And then they started praying and I felt… nothing. But part way through that prayer, something clicked. God took over. It was as though He was showing me just a small piece of His love for me, for others, for the world. It was completely overwhelming! It suddenly became so clear that the God I had been getting to know little by little over the past 5 years (and, really, all 20 years of my life through my family and parish community growing up) wanted EVERYONE to experience His love! It wasn’t enough for me to stay in my safe little bubble with God because God wasn’t in the bubble! He’d been waiting for me to step out and follow Him to the rest of the world. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations” and He wants all of us to be a part of that!
That day changed the course of my entire university experience. Little by little I grew to understand what it means to be missionary, through various mission projects and as a student leader with CCO on campus. God placed such strong desires in my heart to share the Gospel with CCO that I actually felt I needed to take a year to step back from CCO to discern clearly. I threw myself into my studies, got involved with events in my faculty, and had the most successful academic year of my life. Despite great successes, I knew it wasn’t where I was meant to be. That year, my fourth and final year at the U of S, I realized that this wasn’t just a passing enthusiasm: God had placed a call in my life and on my heart. All these things had been leading me to full-time ministry with CCO, and I know that, no matter where God leads me next, I will always say with Saint Paul, “All that matters is that Jesus be proclaimed, that is what brings me joy.”