Continuing our daily Advent reflection series on the Feast of St. Nicholas, Audrey Sabatini, current undergraduate at Siena College, writes about a woman who positively influenced her life through the gift of welcoming.

As a freshman commuting student at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, I preferred to be off-campus rather than having to figure out where to fit in on campus. As a sophomore, however, I was introduced to the music ministry at Siena’s chapel by a fellow student, who told me about the upbeat and energetic 7pm Sunday masses that were held. She explained that there was a band and that all voices were welcome. Having grown up as a member of my home parish’s choir, I was beyond thrilled to share my love for spiritual music with other Siena students.

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Kate Kaufman Burns is the current Director of Liturgical Arts at St. Mary of the Angels Chapel, and she has made my years at Siena more memorable than I could even imagine. Not only is she the most kindhearted, passionate woman that I have ever had the pleasure to work with, she treats every student with integrity and gives everyone a chance to shine during liturgy.

Her positive demeanor and love for what she does is apparent in every single mass she plays and special service she organizes. Music has always been an enormous part of my life, and she simply fuels this insatiable desire to use my gifts in a meaningful way every week.

In addition to being a leader to me and my peers in the ministry, Kate is an incredible mentor and friend. Whether I am having a horrible day, am stressed by classes, or need advice on what musical tune to sing for an audition, her door is always open to us. When students go off to college, it is so very easy to fall in the “I’m far from home; I’m not comfortable going to mass by myself at a parish that is foreign to me,” mindset.

If it were not for my instant connection with Kate and the work that she does for the Siena community, I could have very well fallen into that trap. I am so grateful for the love and spirituality that she brought to my life.

Coming tomorrow: “The Gift of Levity” by Br. Tony LoGalbo!

Audrey Sabatini is an undergraduate at Siena College in Loudonville, NY. She attended a short-term mission trip with Franciscan Mission Service.

Help shine the light! Make a donation to Franciscan Mission Service this Advent.