My life changed nearly six months ago. It started when I was in a room with strangers on a Wednesday afternoon. The room was anything but cold though. The strangers were all incredibly friendly and welcoming. Despite my outward appearance, they welcomed me with open arms. I was at Catholics on Call.
After we had slightly broken the ice, we prayed together. It was such a vibrant experience. This was not like Church back at home where everyone and everything was quiet. The songs were made to lift your heart and make your spirit joyful. Everyone sang and was enthused by our time to worship. It was so powerful that it brought me to tears at times. For the first time, I sang as best I could with my fellow believers.
When we would have meals together, everyone was welcome at any table. I was forming friendships with many people of all different backgrounds. Some had southern accents, some had different beliefs, and the list goes on and on. However, it was our Catholic faith that acted as an invisible thread and wove us together as a community.
When I enter communities, I enter with cautious optimism. See, I am not your typical woman. I have a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. I cannot walk or talk. I use a power wheelchair and a computer to talk. I had to bring an assistant to feed, dress, and help me with other personal care tasks. Everyone could see that it took a significant amount of effort just to come to the retreat. I expressed a desire to read during the liturgy on the second day of the retreat. After that any hesitation about what I was about was answered. I am not angry at God for the fact that I have a disability. He and I work together to overcome my unique obstacles. He always cracks the door to an opportunity and my job is to not only open it but crash through the door. Whether it was graduating college or standing independently for five seconds in physical therapy, God was at my side giving me strength and courage to complete the task.
At Catholics on Call, everyone quickly got comfortable with being around me and even helping me. The most meaningful experience was when I decided to drink the blood of Christ for the first time. I had never felt comfortable asking because it always had seemed frivolous to ask. However, these strangers had now become good and understanding friends. They were patient enough to let me enjoy this sacrament. Sister Mary Catherine held my straw in place, a friend held the cup, and another friend was ready with a napkin. I did not need my assistant which was significant for me. Whenever I don’t need an assistant, it feels exhilarating! I know God has provided that moment to rejuvenate me.
Other than little moments of joy and independence, Catholics on Call provided me with incredible clarity. I know He wants ministry woven into my career path. Currently, I am working on getting insight into a campus chaplain’s life. I love critical discussions about the Bible and want to touch young people as they enter adulthood. Secondly, I am looking for Christian magazines to write for due to writing being my way to not only make the world around me think but writing is also a way of getting my message of hope and determination to people.
I am sure God will open many doors to my vocation(s). I will follow Him and trust His guidance. Trusting God can be difficult for a variety of reasons however, thinking back to Catholics on Call will remind me to trust God. Catholics on Call was a wonderful week of my life and I will never forget those five precious days of faith, prayer, and friendship.