Editor’s Note: Missioner-in-training Cindy Mizes reflects on what led her to FMS and shares her experience of the first weeks of formation in Washington, DC.
When asked what led me to become a missioner, frankly the only thing I could say was that it was a calling from God. In truth, I didn’t understand the mystery behind that calling. Why would I choose to retire from a very successful career, sell my home and most of my belongings, and leave a loving family and a beloved cat to travel to some far off country where I don’t know the culture, the people, or the language?
Because of love.
God formed me in love at my conception. But with me, it’s a continual work in progress.
Preparation to become a missioner involves three months of intense Formation in Washington D.C. where I live with other lay Franciscans in a community setting. Each week, I along with the three other missioners-in-training receive classes on spirituality, theology, social justice, culture, and other topics of importance.
Another component of my Formation includes spending one day a week assisting the Little Sisters of the Poor at the Jeanne Jugan Residence where I offer spiritual presence to the elderly experiencing poverty who reside there.
Spiritual presence may be something as simple as listening with my heart to a resident’s story, sharing a laugh, leading group activities, or just holding a resident’s hand to let them know they are deeply loved.
During my first few weeks of Formation, in addition to the training I received in class, I also learned a lot about myself and community living. Living in community has allowed me to broaden my focus and see beyond just myself – it is about unconditional love.
My lens now allows me to see things that truly matter to others and to adjust my feelings, thoughts, and words to express God’s love. For example, one day I devoted 15 minutes of precious ‘free time’ to help one of my housemates who was struggling to prepare the community meal.
God is love. And love conquers all fear.
Any fears or reservations I had coming into my vocation have vanished during these initial weeks of Formation, and I feel the joy every day!
This joy has revealed itself in so many ways. Being able to attend daily mass at the Franciscan Monastery and walk to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception are just two of the many joys while living in Washington, DC.
On Labor Day, my joy was being able to attend Mass at St. John Paul II National Shrine and venerate a relic of recently canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta. My initial days of Formation have led me to realize….
I am formed in God’s love.
Father, your love remains in me and is brought to perfection in me. Help me to show your love not so much in words or in speech, but rather in works and deeds.
In what ways has God revealed his love to you? How have you shown that love to others?