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November 16th, 2014

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I miss writing in here so much. I miss being able to go back in and find something based on tags. If I had a million dollars, I would pay someone to type all of my real journal entries into LJ and tag appropriately. Maybe that's a good Thanksgiving break plan for me, tagging stuff. I really love remembering how life used to be :)

December 24th, 2012

Christmas homily

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Whatever you can't forget, let it go.

Where you need to be forgiven, let it go.

Ok, ok, I hear you...

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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October 21st, 2012

Special Update

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I realize that I just posted my weekly update. And it's not like it's illegal to post more than once a day (see: 2002). But it's an unusual occurrence as of late.

Anyway, I don't know when it started, but one day I realized that by the time I finish showering, the water is up around my ankles. My drain must be clogged. I kept forgetting to buy Drain-o at the store, so I just ignored it. Then I saw this "use baking soda and vinegar to clear a clog" on Pinterest. Well, I have been through almost a box of baking soda and two half bottles of vinegar (one white, the other apple cider...it's what I had). For the record, I still have three bottles of balsamic, but I just don't think that will work. Anyway, tried the baking soda vinegar thing, thought it was better. It wasn't. Read the directions and tried again, still not working. It bubbles up, fizzes, does its thing, acts like it's working, I pour in the boiling water, it goes down. But regular water will not. Tomorrow I'm buying Drain-o. I don't like chemicals either, but this is ineffective. Sorry Pinterest.

Super Sunday Six

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I'm trying a new blogging initiative. That is, a quick bulleted life update list here on Sunday nights, and a "what works - and what doesn't" in my math class over on Tumblr. I miss having a record of my life and its events. There's also a Trinita blog, two actually, that are sad and lonely because of how long they have been left alone.

1. My morning started with finding cottage cheese that I ate last night still sitting on my coffee table. I was sad that I had left it out overnight and let it spoil. I carried it over to my refrigerator so keep it from smelling up my house, and, when I opened the refrigerator door, I realized it was dead. The light was out and it was warm. Awesome, even if I had put the cottage cheese away, it would still be bad. So I called emergency maintenance, and a guy named Richie came to help. He couldn't quite figure out what was wrong and got it working again. He's going to come back tomorrow and work on the electrical panel, but for now, my food it cold. Crisis averted.

2. I made a movie with photos and video that I took in my fourth period Algebra class on Thursday. It's so cute, but I can't figure out a way to make it playable for them in class. I don't have an Apple TV so I can't send it right to my projector. I tried to export it to YouTube as a private video, but it's not showing up in my YouTube account. I don't know what to do.

3. If you aren't watching Parenthood, you are missing out. It is quickly becoming my new obsession. I say that because, in the past ten days, I've watched two and a half seasons. I love their relationships and family crazy because it's so normal. It's been a long time since I watched a mainstream (non-teeny bopper) show. That being said, tomorrow is Monday, which means Gossip Girl. And that makes me super happy.

4. Baseball season is sort of ending. The NLCS has two games left (maybe just one), and the World Series starts on Wednesday, I think. I'll probably watch because it feels weird to do anything else, but really, I'm just excited that basketball season is SO CLOSE. We play Georgetown ON A BOAT in under three weeks. Living in Tampa means actually getting all of the games that are only televised in state, this makes me super happy. I missed so many of the non-conference games the past two years. We're supposed to be good, ranked 10th in preseason. I love basketball season.

5. Yesterday I got my hair cut. In an amazing feat, I managed to beat Mom and Kathy to Super Target, run into Ross, buy the bird table that Katie wanted, and meeting them in Target like two seconds later. Then I raced downtown, picked up some fall veggies at the farmers' market, and made it to the salon only one minute late (despite accidentally parking half a mile away). Hailey loves my hair, which is fun because I don't feel like people compliment my features often. She cut out a ton of the weight and made it the perfect length. I am very pleased. I made an appointment for eight weeks because ten was way too long.

6. Last week I had this amazing dream about David Lee. We were spending the day together (not sure how we met) and having a great time. He didn't know that I was his hugest fan/stalker, it was like we were friends. But then I had to do something for school, and my password to whatever I had to get into was his name. And he was totally creeped out. That ended our fun day. Is this a sign?

July 18th, 2011

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I am in a super cranky pants sort of mood.

May 18th, 2011

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Dear God,


When I cannot see you,
remind me that you never lose sight of me.


When I cannot hear you,
remind me that you never miss a word I pray.


When I cannot reach you,
remind me that you hold me in your arms.


When I cannot find you,
remind me that you always seek me.


When I cannot trust you,
remind me that you never give up on me.


And when I cannot, well, whatever . . .
remind me that you can, you do and you will . . .


Amen.

April 19th, 2011

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Happy TEN YEAR anniversary dear LiveJournal!


5,445th entry. Craziness.

February 27th, 2011

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To do this week (BEFORE I GET TO GO TO FLORIDA FOR A WEEK!!!!!!!!!!)

-grade 8th grader portfolios
-make, copy, and grade Algebra 2 tests
-copy and grade pre algebra tests
-clean my house
-do all work for Church History from last week and this week
-pack
-make a birthday cake for Laura
-Christ in the City

February 13th, 2011

Dear St. Augustine’s,

Do you remember when we first met? How could you? I barely even peeked my head inside. It was a hot June afternoon; I was 17 years old and had just completed my junior year of high school. After our tour of campus, my mom, Nicole and I were wandering around University Avenue when we stumbled upon you on our way to Burger King for lunch. I remember seeing your little sign, the one with four separate pieces long since replaced by the big fancy one. We ventured into the courtyard hoping to sneak a look inside. That look was short-lived; you were so dark and cold. I just knew, this place could never be as good as my church back home.

Over a year later, I found myself moving to Gainesville and starting a new life. I had heard about you. Ashley Beck passed on all of the information her sister Heather had told her. Supposedly you offer a retreat called Alpha that is just like the Antioch retreat I did in high school. I don’t know though, Antioch was the best thing I ever did and I was a leader in it, certainly this Alpha thing won’t be that good.

Reluctantly I went with Ashley to 5:30 Mass that first Sunday in town. Anyone who’s anyone at St. Augustine’s goes to 5:30 Mass or so I was told. We walked into the church and saw entire pews filled with students! As we sat down in the next to last pew in the front section on the courtyard side, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The girl who was sitting behind me, her name was Tiffini, wanted to know if I was new in town. I replied that I was a freshman, and she proceeded to tell me about all of the student activities that St. Augustine’s offered. A youth group on Monday nights, free dinner on Tuesdays, and again with this Alpha retreat thing.

As Mass began, I was awestruck. There were UF faculty members in the procession in full academic regalia. This was so cool. Was it like this every week? The answer turned out to be no as I’ve never seen faculty included in the Mass since, but it drew me in that day. To be honest, I have no idea who the priest was that day. And, just as it should be, who the priest is doesn’t really matter. Some things about this church seemed very strange; the Holy, Holy was repeated for some reason and the collection baskets seem like they should contain fried fish and French Fries. You were nothing like “my church back home”; why couldn’t you be more like St. Patrick’s? Why couldn’t you change to accommodate what I was used to? Where did these crazy African songs come from? Who really wants to sing “Thuma Mina” anyway? Yes, I was one of those students. I wanted you to conform to what I knew. I didn’t understand why you couldn’t be exactly like my parish in Sarasota. As I came to discover, you are so much more.

After Mass, a group gathered in the courtyard, as was custom apparently, and made plans to go out to dinner at Bennigan’s. Ashley’s sister was going, so we decided to tag along as well. That would be one of only six times during my first semester that I ate in a restaurant in Gainesville. We took up at least four booths in the restaurant, but I got to meet so many people! I sat with Ashley, Heather, a guy named Garrett (who would later go on to marry Tiffini!), and his then girlfriend Christine. The group was planning a camping trip for that night. Since it was a long weekend, they were going down to the Ocala National Forest. I decided going into the woods with a group of strangers probably wasn’t the best idea and told them I couldn’t go.

About ten days later, Ashley had convinced me to go to this Newman thing, a free dinner on Tuesday nights. I reluctantly agreed and made plans to pick her up at 5pm so we could go to Mass before hand. I had never been to Mass on a weekday and didn’t even really know that there was Mass on weekdays. As fate would have it, that Tuesday was September 11, 2001. I had been living on my own for a mere two weeks when turmoil hit our nation. Full-grown adults didn’t know how to cope with such tragedy, how was I supposed to know? Ashley and I stuck to our plan and went to Mass together that evening. The church was packed, more so than for any Triduum service that followed it. Fr. Phillips was the priest celebrant that evening. I remember him processing in, and then stopping to lay prostrate before the altar for at least five minutes. A great silence took over the church as we all tried to make sense of what had happened. During the Newman dinner that followed, Sr. Margaret gave us an opportunity to talk about what we were feeling, to process everything that had occurred that day, and discussed future plans for Jewish-Muslim-Christian dialogues.

In the weeks that followed, I continued to attend Newman dinners on Tuesdays always with Ashley by my side. We had at least one interfaith dinner where we met across the street at Hillel for dinner and learned about the Jewish and Muslim faiths. I had never even met a person of the Muslim faith before! On occasion, we even went to Catholic Student Fellowship on Mondays. In November, we were all invited to choose a Saint to present about for All Saints Day. I chose St. Patrick in honor of my church back home, besides I didn’t really know any other Saints. The guy who was running CSF at that time was Gerald. He talked a lot of fire and brimstone – and mostly scared the crap out of me. But there was something about you St. Augustine’s, something that drew me in and kept me from leaving. I was hearing things about my faith that I had never known before, I was being stretched, I was finding more questions than answers, but I wanted to know more. And so I stayed.

In mid-October, Alpha, the retreat Ashley had told me about, finally rolled around. My memories of that time are so scattered. I remember playing four square with the cutest boy there, but I have no idea what his name was. I remember spending hours sitting on the dock talking with Jose Bohorquez and being amazed by his wisdom. I was terrified by the “Addams Family” dinner theme – but too shy to tell anyone that I was scared. My most clear memory is from the Reconciliation service. We were blindfolded and led to the back benches at the fire circle to wait before being taken to the priest. I have no idea what I confessed that warm fall night, but I remember the hand on my shoulder. It was such a comforting presence. Only later would I learn that the name for that role during the service is “comforter.” As I was walked to the priest, I told myself repeatedly that this was just like the trust walk. And, slowly, I learned to trust these people and this place.

Spring semester rolled around, and I was excited be more involved with Alpha. I wanted to on team, but I wasn’t sure that I could be a small group leader so I applied for Set Up. Looking back, that must have been the most whack Set Up experience ever, but, I didn’t know better, and it only prepared me for the whackdom to come. Garrett, the same guy I met at Bennigan’s that first night, was our Set Up Leader. The rest of the crew consisted of John Mikel, Jason Body, and Richard/Ian Price who eventually withdrew for medical reasons. Great, a bunch of older boys and me. From the very beginning you challenged me, took me out of my comfort zone, and showed me how much more I can actually do.

As luck would have it, I came down with bronchitis, a sinus infection, and an ear infection in early February. Not knowing that team workday wasn’t actually mandatory, I attended and did my share of the work. How silly I was! The next day, the infirmary ordered me to stay home for three days. I missed CSF and Newman that week. But, the following Sunday, Ligeia approached me at Mass to see how I was feeling and told me that they had prayed for me at CSF on Monday. For the first time, I felt like someone in this strange new place really cared about me. You weren’t my home yet, but you had grown one step closer.

The time for Alpha rolled around, and we arrived at Camp Crystal Lake in darkness on Friday night. The boys were “angry” that I had eaten pizza while they continued to load luggage – so anything they didn’t want to do became my job. And that’s how I found myself walking alone in pure darkness to the Rec Hall with the flowers. That was the first of many times I would survive, overcome a fear, and develop as an individual.

Later that night, after Team Meeting, everyone burst out into “Happy Birthday” for it was after midnight which meant was my 19th birthday and Kelli’s 22nd birthday. I remember thinking how old she was. How many more years I saw go by with you, St. A’s. In the wee hours of the morning, I sat at the picnic style tables with Ashley and Abrea. We wrote palancas, we did cartwheels, and we grew together as friends. Those moments are among my first memories of having friends at St. Augustine’s. We stayed up until 5:45am – is this what people mean by ridiculous college memories? To this day, I have a vivid recollection of carrying the palancas under a huge golf umbrella with Jason Body trying to keep them dry and ending up soaking all of my stuff, including my sleeping bag. My 45 minutes of sleep that night were fitful, I was freezing cold and soaking wet, but I woke up ready for the new day!

Garrett and I spent most of the afternoon driving around Starke in search of dry firewood with no luck. Kitchen had also requested that we buy birthday candles – way to ruin the surprise! In the end, serenade brought the firewood, and we had birthday cake after Agape. For me, the best part of Alpha has always been palancas. I need that tangible gift of love. I still have all of my palanca bags; I still read through my palancas on occasion. To receive palancas from these people in Gainesville, from my new friends at St. Augstine’s, was the real gift that birthday. Finally I had found people who cared about me. It might not be so bad here after all.

On the first Friday of Lent, I had the good sense to attend Stations of the Cross as well as the Bread and Soup Supper that followed. It was at that meal that I was first told about the Easter Triduum at St. Augustine’s. Melissa ___ and Christine Spenik went on and on about how wonderful it was and told me that I must stay in Gainesville for Easter. So I did.

The first night, Holy Thursday, I was absolutely blown away by the reverence, the ritual, and the fact that I had never known any of this to existence in any of my other churches. It was my first experience with a Eucharistic procession and adoration. I flew out of the lounge, and before I got to my car, I was in tears. I was completely overwhelmed by these new experiences in my faith. Friday night was another trust exercise. Although the booklet said there would be a silent procession, it was anything but silent. Not knowing about the drum in the choir loft, I first thought I was being shot. I was so scared. But I told myself repeatedly, “They won’t let anything bad happen to you here. You are safe here.” And I was. I went home that night with much anticipation of what would come the following evening.

Saturday night did not let me down. For the first time, I heard the story of our salvation through seven Scripture readings. I saw men and women baptized into the faith by full immersion. Others were confirmed and received fully into the Church. Something inside me was awakened by this spectacular liturgical experience. If there’s one thing you do well, it’s Triduum. I can’t imagine where I will ever find anything that compares.

You might be surprised to learn that it wasn’t in Alpha that I found my home at St. Augustine’s. That same spring, Michelle Troche, on her own initiative, decided that the student community should host an Easter Festival. Again, how I got involved in this, I’ll never know. I don’t sing in public! But I found myself at rehearsal after rehearsal, doing ridiculous things like moving the altar at midnight, shopping for matching red shirts with girl I had only just met, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t smiling. I became friends with some of the older students, I learned from them, and I felt taken in. It was on the night of the Festival that I met Letty for the first time. I had heard about Letty since my arrival at St. Augustine’s and had yet to meet her. Randomly, during the reception, a woman came up to me and thanked me for my participation – it was Letty! Only later would I learn Letty’s story of St. Augustine’s and her intimate involvement with the parish.

At Baccalaureate Mass that semester, I decided to be part of the choir. Again, I have no idea what drew me to this, I don’t sing. All I knew was that Nansi needed a choir, and, inasmuch as these graduates had included me in their community, I felt obligated to share myself with them as they left us. I remember having tears in my eyes as I received the Eucharist from our graduating seniors, Jen Varela and Paul Giammarinaro. This is the last time we will ever celebrate the Mass together, I thought to myself. It was at that moment that I realized the transient nature of the St. Augustine community. Danielle Rose’s song “See You in the Eucharist” had yet to be written, but the sentiment would have comforted my heart during that time.

As I went on to do to many other young students, I was talked into applying for an officer role in Newman Club. It just so happened that Erin Andres and I were the only Newman officers in town during Summer A that year and running Newman each week became our responsibility. I could tell you ridiculous stories from that summer for hours, but the only thing that really matters is that somehow, within your walls dear St. Augustine’s, became the only place I wanted to be. It was a safe place, it was a place filled with love and friendship, it was home. More and more I found myself asking the question, “How did I get here?” Here being taking home two pitchers full of rice because we made too much at Newman, lost somewhere outside the Gainesville city limits as we tried to find a shortcut between Sam’s and Norman’s, and in charge of catering our campus minister’s alternative wedding reception! For as long as I can remember, I have loved cooking – and now I had found a place where God could use those talents! There is truly a place for everyone in the Kingdom of God, and I had found my place.

When we gather around the table and break the bread together, we are transformed not only individually but also as community. We, people from different ages and races, with different backgrounds and histories, become one body. As Paul says: "As there is one loaf, so we, although there are many of us, are one single body, for we all share in the one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:17). Not only as individuals but also as community we become the living Christ, taken, blessed, broken, and given to the world. As one body, we become a living witness of God's immense desire to bring all peoples and nations together as the one family of God. –Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey

Having spent two and a half years as a Newman office, I can tell you that Newman is about so much more than giving free food to people. On the surface, it absolutely appears to be that way. But down below, there is something sacred in preparing a meal especially for this group of people. There is love in taking time out of your days to cook for your friends – and the friends you haven’t met yet. There is life in preparing food, fresh, wholesome, homemade food, for a population who is constantly eating out in restaurants.

For most of my undergraduate years, Newman dominated my Tuesdays. The shopping, cooking, set up, and clean up flowed into my way of life. It was in your kitchen that I made true friends. It was over big bowls of eggs and logs of beef that we smiled and laughed. There were Disney sing-a-longs, pajama nights, and Halloween parties. Because of Newman, I slept and showered at the church and did so many more random things I can’t even mention. If you were my home, St. Augustine’s, Newman was my family.

Where would I be without you St. Augustine’s? I really have no idea. I came to you; a naïve and innocent little freshman who thought you would never measure up to the church home she knew. You didn’t just transform the way I saw you, you transformed my entire reality. Before coming to Gainesville, I never knew that as Catholics we believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Hello fundamental piece of the faith that no one had ever told me. You showed me that – and suddenly the peace I had always felt before the tabernacle in a church made sense. There are some who are totally amused that I could have learned such a thing from you, the church that supposedly “hates the Eucharist.” But I think that’s one of the most amazing things about you St. A’s, you are for each individual exactly what (s)he needs. For me, it was knowledge of the faith. I learned so much about what is means to be Catholic, what we say, what we believe, what we do, from the friends, clubs, and liturgies at St. Augustine’s. I remember stumbling upon a book during a high school retreat in Sarasota. I read a section that talked about why the Church is opposed to condoms. I was shocked. I mean, certainly outside of marriage because you aren’t supposed to be having sex anyway, but within marriage? What was this nonsense? As St. Augustine’s I learned the beauty of our human sexuality, the gift of NFP, and the relationship between husband and wife.

As if I wasn’t involved enough, someone decided it would be a brilliant idea for me to be Newman President and Alpha Team Leader in the same semester. When I first came to Newman and saw Jennifer Yontz as the President, I thought to myself, “I want to be her.” Sr. Margaret approached me about it midway though my junior year – and the prospect terrified me. I was certainly not capable of leading an organization that is responsible for welcoming new students to St. Augustine’s and providing a quality homemade dinner for 150 students each week. What I had wanted for so long because overwhelming and scary; I told her no eight times. On the ninth time, I surrendered it all to God and accept the position.

At that first dinner, I was a mess. I was downright terrified to stand before such a large group of my peers and play the role of leader - to welcome them, give announcements, and lead into prayer. Duggan came over, and knowing me so well, he took my hand and held it tight. He never let go until it was over. And, by that point, I had done what I needed to do, I had done it, and I knew that I could do it again. All of my palancas from Alpha that semester comment on the my double roles in leadership saying, “I don’t know how you did it.” Truth be told, I don’t either. Certainly it was only by the grace of God. That semester was the most difficult of my life. I had major stressors within friendships, I was completely overwhelmed by responsibilities, I was never home, and I was supposed to be figuring out what to do after graduation.

Before the school year began, we had a retreat for the student leaders. We stayed in a Bed & Breakfast downtown and had the two most amazing retreat leaders imaginable. Sr. Kate Hine, SND is the Vocations Director from Sr. Margaret’s community, and Dee Bernhardt is a campus minister from Wisconsin. Both women shared immense wisdom about leadership and spirituality with us. They taught us to look within ourselves at our own God given gifts and to use those gifts to serve. We met in groups by leadership type; no one was surprised that I was in the “Planner” group. They are two of the most incredible women I have ever known, and they taught me nearly everything I know about leadership. During that short time, I learned not only how to use my strengths to my advantage but also how to get along with people who have very different leadership styles. Most importantly, for the first time ever, I began to take down some of the barriers that I used to keep others at a distance. I started the lifelong process of learning how to be loved.

On the retreat, Dee shared a reflection that she had written and had been published around the world called, “To Be a Leader.” Each of the statements in the document seems to contradict everything about the lives we live. But it spoke to me like nothing else ever had. “To Be a Leader” has become my premiere document for teaching others about servant leadership. It taught me that leaders are not strong, powerful, and dominating but rather compassionate, vulnerable, and giving. My entire life has taken shape from this simple reflection. Where would I be as a leader without this lesson?

My undergraduate years at UF flew by, and before I knew it, I was entering my final semester of classes and the end of my time at the most amazing home I had ever found. This semester also brought transition to another uncomfortable place. Having been in a position of leadership for the past two and a half years, I suddenly found myself with no responsibilities, no official role. I actually scheduled my one class of the semester between 1-4pm on Tuesdays just so that I wouldn’t be tempted to go run Newman. It was the only way I knew how to force myself to let go. And it was so hard.

But I couldn’t let go of you St. A’s. I was attached to your liturgies, your programs, your people. I missed my friends terribly and was always sad that they were still enjoying their time with you while I was miserable in Sarasota. I was in Sarasota for eighteen months. I wasn’t trying to replace you but rather to find some place that inspired me to learn my faith, drew me deeper into prayer in its liturgies, and made me feel a part of a Christian community of love and fellowship in the same ways you did. At the time, I was sure such a place couldn’t exist. There would be nowhere like you. I couldn’t let you go. And in the end, I never did let go, for in October 2006, I accepted the position of Youth Minister and returned “home.”

I am forever grateful that I knew how crazy a place you are when I accepted the job. Even with as much as I knew, I was still surprised and challenged by the work environment. No longer was I a student leader or even a receptionist, but now a staff member. I was “in the know” – sort of. I was invited to attend meetings, discuss students and situations, and be part of making large decisions. Instead of just planning events or meetings, I was involved in creating the vision. I loved it.

At the same time, it was a constant frustration. I remember being told as a sophomore that the motto of St. A’s is, “We complicate all things for Christ.” That’s not even the half of it. I never expected my ethics to be so challenged as they were in this place. I found myself always questioning what was happening, why, who was benefiting, and who was suffering. Like so many places in our world, it seemed that the rich were becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. Isn’t the Church supposed to be counter-cultural? Are you not supposed to be a haven for students? Why did it seem like students were increasingly burnt out and hurt by you rather than uplifted in faith?

I wanted so badly for the students to have the same experience I had had as an undergraduate. I wanted them to know you as a wonderful place. I wanted them to love you like I loved you. Along the way, I found some friends who did. In particular, I found two people who were willing to give up anything for you. I was immediately drawn to them because somehow they understood you like I did. Together we spent hours dreaming of how incredible a place you could be. We recalled what you had given to us and imagined all that you had to give to future generations. These two friends understood my intense desire for you to be a spectacular place of faith, friends, and fun while sharing in the frustrations that so many are eager to take and so few are willing to give to you. How had things changed so much in such a short time? As a freshman, I fell in love with you because of the way everyone was willing to give up his whole self for you. And now, it seemed as though each person was here solely for himself and his needs.

Beyond that, from a professional standpoint, things were even messier. I began to see the real structure of the parish staff, and it was infuriating. How can we use Christ as a front for corruption? How can the place I love more than anywhere, the first place I ever truly felt safe be such a disaster? For a long time, my faith really suffered for it. I couldn’t go to Mass without being angry either with the priest or with the paid non-Catholics in the choir or the constant waste (in supplies and money) that surrounded me. I did everything I could to pinch pennies (and hopefully my teens didn’t suffer for it) while other departments lavished themselves in extravagant and unnecessary purchases. I was asked to cut back on multiple occasions, eventually to the point of cutting my own position, while others expanded budgets and staff because their work was central to our life in faith. The unspoken consequence of that being that youth ministry is not. Even in the secular workplace, I had not experienced such blatant favoritism.

The priests continued to be served by two housekeepers, have an overabundance of food in their multiple refrigerators, and watch both digital cable and satellite television while refusing to pay the maintenance staff for overtime work. Older staff members were allowed to “retire” in order to earn a greater income from their retirement account and collect pay in cash during the interim. Certain employees were always paid in cash since they didn’t have work visas or wanted to also collect Social Security. The highest paid employees never came to work, the lowest worked in excess to account for their absence. How this could be the truth behind a place I love so dearly, I still can’t understand.

During my last year, a new campus minister was hired to replace the retired Sr. Margaret. It was clear from the hiring process that no good could come from this. This would prove to be the most difficult time yet. Suddenly, this new person with no background in campus ministry or understanding of ministry at St. Augustine’s was allowed to do whatever she pleased. Slowly, our ministry turned into a fraternity house. No one could stop her. Not students who disagreed with her ideas, not her supervisor, not even the pastor. The hardest lesson of this last year was a line from the Litany of Humility – “from the desire of being consulted – Deliver me Jesus.” Watching a place that I love fall into ruin and not having the ability to do anything about it is even more frustrating than all of the unethical nonsense. Because this affects the students, this leads them away from you. No longer is St. A’s a place where college students are transformed into the leaders of the young Catholic Church. Instead, we teach young people that the Church is here to serve them with crappy free food and hundreds of free t-shirts. Our Catholic faith is reduced to fish fries and intramurals. I can’t watch it continue; I have to go.

And now I find myself alone, sitting on the floor of my empty apartment, counting down the hours I have left here, the time I have left with you. Twelve hours to go. I am so incredibly sad. How do you leave your home? How you do leave your best friend? How do you leave the place that has given you so much? It’s hard to believe that I am no longer an employee. For so long, I have defined myself by my involvement with you. But what first drew me to you was the way you form people to send them out – I was never meant to stay here. We are brought to St. Augustine’s to grow so that we can give what we have received to the rest of the world. I didn’t feel ready last time; I didn’t know what I was to do or where I was to go. Now I know that neither of those things really matter.

God has created me to do some definite service. God has committed some work to me which God has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may not know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. God has not created me for naught. I shall do good – I shall do God’s work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it if I do but keep the commandments. Therefore I will trust God. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve God. In perplexity, my perplexity may serve God. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve God. God does nothing in vain. God knows what God is about. God may take away my friends. God may throw me among strangers. God may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me – still God knows what God is about.
–John Henry Cardinal Newman

With my head held high, bolstered by my experiences in this place, and in full confidence of a future filled with hope, I will go forth to love and serve the Lord.
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December 24th, 2010

It would be a false interpretation to see this exclusively as the action of God, as if he had not called man to a free response of love. But it would be equally mistaken to adopt a moralizing interpretation as if man were so to speak able to redeem himself by his good will. Both elements belong together: grace and freedom, God’s prior love for us, without which we could not love him, and the response that he awaits from us, the response that he asks for so palpably through the birth of his son. We cannot divide up into independent entities the interplay of grace and freedom, or the interplay of call and response.
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