Last summer, I told my coworkers, friends, and family that I was taking a week-long staycation in August. I shared my simple plans to relax in my apartment, cook “real” meals, endlessly browse Netflix, and exert as little effort as possible.
But these were lies.
In fact, I did the complete opposite of what I claimed to be in my plans. During this “staycation,” I was never in my apartment, didn’t cook a single thing, willingly abandoned my laptop, and enjoyed maximizing my efforts into learning and meeting new people.
I was secretly at Catholics On Call.
Ironically, one of the reasons I attended CoC was to explore why I was compelled to lie about my whereabouts in the first place. Why was I too embarrassed to tell the truth, even to people who care about me? Why was I ashamed to admit that I’m…Catholic?
I had only recently become a confirmed Catholic a few months prior to attending CoC. To this day, I still vividly remember walking to my local parish in the fall to attend a RCIA info session. Halfway into my walk, I almost turned around to go back home. I nearly convinced myself that I should postpone my decision and that I could sufficiently spend the next year reading books and blogs and praying on my own. No need to get “too” involved at church. I could do this on my own.
Fortunately my curiosity exceeded my attempts at self-persuasion, so I successfully showed up at the info session. Fast forward to Easter Vigil 2014 and I’m standing at the front of the church, happily facing a packed parish as an officially confirmed Catholic.
Catholics On Call was the natural next step after I completed the RCIA program. I longed for help in discerning a life of service in the church. But doubts once again entered my mind. Maybe I should just postpone applying to CoC until next year. Am I even Catholic enough to attend Catholics On Call? Who will write my references? Am I too old? Maybe I don’t need CoC. Just me and God is good enough.
When the minister of my parish’s young adult group, Sister Katie, first asked me if I would be interested in attending a summer conference on discernment for young adults at Catholic Theological Union, it was the sign I needed. I had already visited the Catholics On Call website numerous times but didn’t dare tell anyone. I even tried to play it cool with Sr. Katie by pretending to know very little about CoC. I was totally ecstatic when I was accepted into the program.
Yet I pretended it didn’t happen. I wanted as few people as possible to know that I was attending Catholics On Call. It was nobody’s business.
I kept it a secret because I thought my faith was a strictly personal matter. I am a deeply private and introverted person (although I can fool people into thinking the opposite), and I wanted to reserve my faith for myself and a few people who I already knew were “obviously” Catholic.
Catholics On Call showed me why I didn’t need to lie anymore.
CoC illuminated the necessity and joy of opening up oneself to friendship, community, and intimacy. This was initially difficult for me to accept, but I learned at CoC that I would be better served to stop keeping my Catholic faith a secret. Strangers, acquaintances, and new friends can help us develop the character and acquire the virtues that are essential in discerning and living out our vocation. Allow yourself to inspire other people. Share your talent. Share yourself and that will lead you to unearthing your gifts.
The man who can keep a secret may be wise, but he is not half as wise as the man with no secrets to keep.” – E.W. Howe