Continuing our series Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, Communications Associate Michael Carlson interviews Nora Pfeiffer about her faith’s relationship to Confirmation, the Holy Spirit, and her response to God through her mission service. Nora served in Bolivia as a Franciscan missioner and subsequently joined the staff of Franciscans International.
1. The sacrament of Confirmation is a special gift of the Holy Spirit. How did the Holy Spirit lead you to mission with Franciscan Mission Service?
The Holy Spirit called me to mission over the course of many years, and finally I got the courage to actually respond. While many people helped encourage me in my discernment, I also had a moment in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament when the Holy Spirit gave me the question, “How will you honor me?”
I knew the answer for me was to go on mission.
2. Confirmation is an initiating connection to the larger Christian community. How has service for others connected you to others?
Service to others is one of the ways that makes me feel most connected. In service we learn so much from those we’re accompanying, as they also accompany us, and it’s a true experience of the “family” God created us to be.
3. Confirmation is also a commitment to further service. How did your service through Franciscan Mission Service move you to recommit to service through Franciscans International?
Franciscan Mission Service helped give me the formation and the preparation to be on mission in Bolivia and find a place where I can use my gifts, be challenged, grow and give…how could I say no?
It is challenging to be away from family and friends from my home, but I decided to recommit to service through Franciscans International because I really believe in the mission to live the gospel, promoting peace, protection of the environment, and working to eradicate poverty.
|Nora with a friend while on mission in Cochabamba|
There is a need in Bolivia to help spread that mission of Franciscans International and build stronger connections between their New York and Geneva offices and the Franciscan family on the ground.
The Holy Spirit continues to be very present in this ministry!
4. How does your work affect your faith in the Holy Spirit?
Seeing challenges, experiencing doubts, feeling unqualified and unprepared, and then having my eyes opened to how the Holy Spirit can STILL bring so much good and grace and beauty through all that–that is when I’m reminded how much more in control God is than I am. It is when I am reminded that I can only be a conduit, and thank goodness the Holy Spirit is there with the grace to guide us and be present right in front of our eyes.
5. If St. Francis asked you to tell him a personal story about fulfilling the sacrament of Confirmation through mission, what would you tell him?
The sacrament of Confirmation is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and, fortunately for me, the Holy Spirit is patient with how we respond to this gift. I believe that our goal is to become saints which means to become perfect, but not the kind of “perfect” one might think of (Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Einstein, etc.), rather, to become the person God created us to be–that is to become perfect.
I think that answering the Holy Spirit’s call, in whatever form it comes to each person, is taking giant steps closer to becoming perfect. I hope that through living a life of mission I am gradually taking steps toward fulfilling that sacrament and becoming the Nora I have been created to be.