I get to share Love for a living. My job is to build community, to hear people’s hearts, to share what it means to be called a Child of God when plunged into the waters of our salvation, whether as a baby or an adult. I get to associate pastorally with people as a way to pay my bills. Of course, being a Pastoral Associate means I better not have too large of bills to pay! But what a gift it is to get to be able to work in ministry full-time. And I would not have been able to answer my calling so far if it were not for all of the amazing people on my journey who have walked with me at important points along the way.
One of these points was right before I started by MDiv. I had been planning on getting my MDiv since college where I felt a strong call to ministry. That continued during my volunteer year after college. But then that summer before I started my MDiv, all those voices started in and I started to second-guess my decision, my calling. Was I still called to ministry? Still called to an ecclesial vocation of some kind? The doubts hovered with me. Maybe it was the moving liturgies that moved within me. The mouth-watering cookies of course also played a role in awakening my spirit. And while those things certainly played a role, I think there were two needed things that were the answer to those sudden anxious voices that tried to get me to question my ministerial direction: the small groups and the mentors in the faith that Catholics on Call provided.
Our small group was convinced we were the best one that year. It only matters that we were right to us, I suppose! We were what we needed. We shared vulnerably and courageously. We encouraged one in another in our dreaming and walked with one another in our pain and doubt. To have peers who were asking similar questions and who reminded me that I while my calling may be unique in the world, I wasn’t walking this road alone. I desperately needed that reminder as I prepared to try out my calling by beginning my Mdiv.
And the other thing was the mentors in faith—both the specific mentor assigned to our small groups, but also the plethora of mentors in the faith who taught us theology or came in to speak on panels, or who shared about their ministries with us at their workplaces. I could again see my calling. To encounter others’ living their callings reminded me to live mine, and also equipped me to do so.
The Catholics on Call Conference was so important to me that I continued to try to stay involved however I could and can. I attended the Partner Conference for my three years as an MDiv student and I attended this year now as full-time minister. As a young adult in ministry, it is always a fruitful time of encouragement, prayer, and companionship.
I wish every young adult who hears that small voice in their head asking them to consider a life of service in the Church could have the same opportunities I have had. I had this connection to Catholics on Call before, during, and after my time of ministerial formation and it has been the greatest gift. We need companions on the journey, both peers and mentors. Catholics on Call was the supplement I have needed on this sometimes lonely journey of being a young woman called to ministry. I only hope that it can continue to be a tool of discernment, hope, and support for others as well.