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The Graces of Change

4.7.21 emily

Editor’s Note: DCSC volunteer Emily Dold discusses the impact of change through the experiences of Casa changes as well as her role within the Father McKenna Center shifting. 

Have you ever felt as though a homily was meant just for you? Or, more likely, that God wanted you to hear the homily’s contents? The Easter Sunday livestreamed Mass at my childhood parish sure felt like it targeted my reflections on change and temporality. Here’s what Rev. Rodney said in his homily opening:

Change is inevitable. It happens all the time. Sometimes we have no control over it whatsoever; it just happens. Sometimes the change is really great and we’re so excited about the change. Sometimes the change, however, can be a little bit more challenging….Try as we all may, we cannot escape change.

These past couple of months have reminded me of temporality and how you cannot always plan for the changes that are going to occur. From the moment I moved into the Casa, I was aware that I would leave it. While a shelter and a place intentional living, I do not usually call it “home.” And as of recent, the Casa said goodbye to a DCSC member as she makes a shift in her vocation. Within my ministry, I was tasked with a new role, which pulled me away from the hopes to better connect with the guests at the Father McKenna Center, which I wrote about in my last blog post. 

While these transitions have shown their difficulties, I have come to know them as positives, when working to invite God into them. They have also reminded me of how necessary it is to connect with the constant: God and His love. Without these constants, these changes can appear as negative spaces, as focused on what once was but is no longer. And while I still sometimes see changes as a loss, or negative space, I am learning to see what a gift it is to be able to invite the Lord into these spaces of transition.

As I mentioned earlier, I had a change of duties within my ministry. This was challenging to me at first, mainly because it took me away from the guests at the Center with whom I thought I was called to connect. As time went on, I realized that what I was simply called to appreciate those around me, whoever they may be. My new role as a volunteer support member has allowed me to interact more fully with those that come to the Center to serve. I am able to listen to their motivations toward service, cherish their talents, and learn from their life experiences. If I had not had the direct opportunity to sit down and connect with our volunteers, I may have overlooked the wealth of beauty and love that they all possess.

This revelation made me think of a quote by Father McKenna:

I really believe that every person is a revelation of God – the joy of God, the love of God. I feel that the human person on the street is the appearance of Jesus Christ consumed with human needs. Christ is in the wretched person, as well as the young person, the young woman or the young child. Their smile is so fresh, like a bud or an open flower that speaks of the wealth of the plant beneath the surface. And that wealth is God.

I think that before I was tasked with my volunteer support role, I was so focused on seeing God only in the people who receive services at our Center, that I forgot to take time to appreciate the volunteers that commit themselves to the same mission of service as myself. I thank God for letting me see so much of Him in them. At the same time, I realized that I had made connections with many of the men, who pointed out that I was not around as much as I had been previously. That’s another thing about transitions: one often needs to integrate the past into the present. This is another challenge of change that needs God’s invitation.


Reflection Question: Can you better welcome God into the change in your life? If so, how?

Emily graduated from William & Mary in December 2019 with a major in Psychology. Following graduation, she continued work at William & Mary, which included her research assistant position with the Healthy Beginnings Project, a developmental psychology lab. Interested in pursuing a career social work, Emily hopes, as a member of DC Service Corps, to continue to strengthen her capacities to support people where they are and advocate for social change. She is grateful for her position at the Father McKenna Center and the opportunity to live in a faith community; service and faith have been ongoing educators in her life. With her free time, Emily enjoys running, playing pick-up basketball, and making and sending cards to family and friends.