Editor’s note: FMS Development Associate, Madeline McKissick introduces her call to the ministry of presence. Entering into this new chapter, she depicts how her ministry looks different than some of her peers. She welcomes the reader to reflect on the teachings of Mother Teresa by doing little things with great love.
At Franciscan Mission Service, we’re called to live a “ministry of presence.” We serve and love those around us by simply being there for them. We meet our brothers and sisters in Christ where they are, and we love them as they are with empathy and compassion.
As a DC Service Corps volunteer, I won’t be serving overseas. My ministry of presence won’t look like tutoring children or visiting people in prison. It looks a little different, but I’m still called to this ministry of presence. I’m called to give of myself to those who I’m volunteering with in DC Service Corps, and to the lay missioners who are living with us during their time in Formation.
I’m not related to anyone living in Casa San Salvador, but I quickly considered everyone my family. I loved all of my casa-mates right away, noticing my Lord in each one of them and getting to know everyone’s beautiful and unique heart. Before I knew it, I was happy to serve the volunteers, missioners, and house managers that I shared a home with. Cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and spending time with my community never feels like a chore.
I used to resent washing the dishes, but Mother Teresa changed my perspective on this task. There’s a quote attributed to her that says, “Wash the plate not because it is dirty or because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.” Needless to say, I don’t always want to wash the dishes. By the time dinner and community prayer are over, I’m tired and I’d rather relax in my room. I wash the dishes anyway because it’s one of the many small yet meaningful ways that I can serve my community. I want my community to have clean dishes for the meals that we share, so I wash them out of love for my brothers and sisters in Christ.
While I was still in college, I dreamed of being a missionary. I had grand plans of serving overseas, or helping college students fall in love with the Lord. I discerned that these weren’t the plans God had for me, but as I live in Casa San Salvador and serve with Franciscan Mission Service, I discovered that I’m still a missionary. My “mission” is doing my best at the FMS office each day and loving my community as we do life together. My ministry is offering my authentic self to my community. I pray for them every day, and I’m learning to love them the way that God created them to be loved.
Throughout my first month with FMS, I learned to find my place in the community by doing little things with great love. At least for now, I’m not called to do grandiose acts for the masses, but I can still serve God by serving my community. I can serve my community through the little things I do, like washing the dishes or wiping down the table, with great love. By doing little things with great love, we can share God’s light and love with those around me wherever we are.