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Developing Gratitude


Editor’s Note: Development Associate Madeline McKissick shares a deeper meaning of her ministry with FMS. She describes what her day to day looks like, often in the form practicing gratitude, within a non-profit office setting.

As the Development Associate of Franciscan Mission Service, I do a lot of work with donor relations. I make phone calls, send emails, and organize events like our Recurring Donor Mass of Gratitude. While I enjoy all of these things, one of my favorite areas of donor relations is writing thank you notes. This also happens to be something that I spend most of my time on in the office, but I don’t mind. Whether someone donates $5 or $5,000, everyone receives a heartfelt thank you letter. It’s our way of sharing our gratitude and showing our appreciation for the support that our donors give us.

Every time I write and send thank you letters, I love looking at our donors’ addresses to see where all of our supporters come from. It’s always amazing to see that the FMS family extends throughout the country. Within the thank you letters, I love to give our donors updates on what our ministry is doing. When Formation was in session, I gave them an idea of what it looked like in the midst of the pandemic, and now, I let them know that our newly-commissioned missioners are excited to begin their time on mission. As our missioners write blog posts like these, I love to include quotes from their writings to show our supporters how our missioners are serving and what they’ve been praying about. These quotes also show our supporters how their financial gifts and prayers are making our ministry possible.

As I write, fold, stamp, and mail numerous thank you letters a week, I see how my small organization overflows with gratitude. Each letter that leaves the office beams with genuine appreciation. Reflecting on my own life, I realize the areas where I’m grateful and where I should add more gratitude. It’s easy for me to give thanks for the big things or the things that I like. When God answers a big prayer intention, when someone gives me a gift that I want, or when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for me, I’m extremely grateful. It’s easy for me to show gratitude in these moments because they’re significant, tangible, or things that I want. As much as I try to be grateful for the little things, I often overlook them. I don’t always recognize the small acts of service that people do for me and the little ways that God blesses me, but I’m learning to intentionally be grateful for these. I look for the good in my life and genuinely thank God. When my community members do something around the Casa I thank them and let them know that I appreciate their help.

My year of service with FMS is helping me learn and grow in so many ways. Lately, I’ve been adopting FMS’ beautiful expression of gratitude. I keep my eyes open for the big and little blessings and gifts throughout my day, and I try to remember to thank God and my community. Becoming more thankful has opened my heart to the big and little blessings sprinkled throughout my days. I’m feeling more joyful knowing that everything in my life is truly a gift from God. I can tell that I’m imitating St. Francis more and more because I’m learning to recognize God’s goodness everywhere and be at peace knowing that God’s blessings are more than enough for me.

Reflection question: Where can you add more gratitude in your life?

Originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Madeline McKissick recently graduated with highest honors from Slippery Rock University. She holds a BA in dance and a BS in professional writing. Madeline was an active leader of Rock Catholic Campus ministry as she led weekly meetings and ran social media accounts. She passionately shares the faith through writing, particularly through her blog, radiantwithjoy.blog, which encourages readers to strive for holiness and Sainthood. As the development associate for the DC Service Corps, Madeline hopes to gain experience working for a Catholic nonprofit and become an instrument of God’s love in serving others. She also looks forward to living in community and growing in faith and virtue with the DC Service Corps members.