Continuing our Advent reflection series today on International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, we keep in mind that all relationships must be founded in dignity. Current Missioner Hady Mendez reflects on the affirming dignity she received during her relationship with her spiritual director.

“I love my spiritual director!”

Everyone has heard me say this at least once over the last few months. That’s because I really do. Father John is great! He gets me in every way and makes me feel so affirmed.

Let me back up by explaining what a spiritual director is: it’s someone who accompanies you on your spiritual journey by listening to where you are and where you are headed, and who is willing to discuss struggles that are coming up along the way.

Father John and I hit it off from the very start. He’s an amazing listener. He has this calming sense about him, and yet, you know he’s thoughtfully trying to understand what you are saying. He asks questions to clarify and make sure he understood the point you are making. Then he offers advice or suggestions or food for thought. And it’s always good. Like, “right on point” good. He gets it. And he always has great wisdom to share.

Hady Mendez

Father John is genuine. I think that’s why we get along so well. He is honest about his life and experiences, and I really appreciate that. He’s currently sick with cancer and not able to work as much as he has done in the past. During his good days, he spends time at a local hospital for returning soldiers and ministers to sick/injured soldiers and their families. Even though he is sick himself, he puts everything he has into his ministry. Because that’s the type of guy he is.

During a recent conversation with Father John, he ended our discussion with something like, “You are going to do great, Hady. We need more people like you on mission. ” Of course that felt good to hear. But it occurred to me as he said it that Father John is pretty great, also. And that we need more people like him in the world.

I go on mission feeling affirmed that, yes, I can make a difference because Father John said so, but also knowing that sometimes God puts people in your life to open your eyes and teach you a valuable lesson. Spending time with Father John has taught me that you don’t have to stop living because life has handed you cancer or put some other obstacle in your way. He hasn’t. He’s so alive and filled with love. And he’s changing lives every day by being genuinely present to the people he encounters. I look at him and I see HOPE. Here’s a man who loves and trusts God. What a gift he is.

So, during this holiday season, give the gift of yourself to others. You never know – it may be a true source of inspiration and hope.

Happy Holidays from my house to yours!


Coming tomorrow: “Have a Blessed Day!” by Natalie Helfrick.