A Tribute to Our Lay Missioners
Editor’s Note: As this year’s Overseas Lay Missioner Formation comes to a close, DC Service Corps member Bohdan O’Shaughnessy dedicates this blog to FMS’s three recently commissioned missioners.
In the not-too-distant future, the Casa is losing our three lay missioners as they embark to their international ministry sites. Last Saturday was their Commissioning Mass, and shortly their Formation with FMS will come to an end. It has been a wonderful few months living in community with Kim, Susan, and Ralph. I wanted to dedicate this blog in gratitude for the time we have shared together, highlighting the qualities that I appreciate most about each of them.
Kim is often the first face I see as I wearily come in from a day at work at Christ House. She invariably greets me with a smile, asking about my day. Kim always embodies a supportive, positive spirit that is summed up in my favorite phrase of hers, “I love that for you!” She is intentional about checking in with members of the community—a selflessness that reminds each of us that we are seen and valued. I also appreciate Kim as someone who demonstrates the importance of contemplation and reflection in growing closer to God. I know Kim as someone who loves to be outside, experiencing God in the peace of nature. Furthermore, in her prayer last week, she led us through a series of Ignatian “Examens” that showed how reflecting on our day allows us to “Find God in All Things” as St. Ignatius so deeply found. Thank you, Kim, for your kind, gentle, and happy spirit. I also forgive you for liking a football team (the Chiefs) that has fared so much better than my Bears.
My work shift may start the earliest, but I am never the first one out of the house. That would be Susan, who admirably attends Mass at the nearby Franciscan monastery every morning. Susan is a role model of piety and commitment to her faith. She is invariably the last person to leave the chapel after our nightly prayer and her relationship with our Lord emits an aura of full trust that I aspire to replicate in my own life. Susan is also someone who loves to laugh, tell stories, and share wisdom and insight from her life as a teacher. She is inquisitive, thoughtful, and a curious listener. Whether on the way to the grocery store in the Corolla or after breakfast in the dining room, I will miss our conversations that have spanned life, our faith, current events, and politics too. Thank you, Susan, for showing me how to trust in the slow work of God in the face of uncertainty. I am also going to miss your expert chef abilities that have saved me when I am late for dinner.
Sometimes it seems like Ralph has lived a thousand lives. From growing up with film stars in Burbank, California, to working for the forest service, to engaging in many international project missions, to proudly being a member of the Secular Franciscans, he is rich in life experience, and it is always enlightening when he shares a story that sheds light on his past. I also appreciate Ralph’s innate curiosity and love to engage with him about intellectual topics such as in science and religion. Furthermore, Ralph carries himself with a gentle confidence, manifesting the Franciscan ministry of presence in his words and actions. He is also someone who wears his heart on his sleeve, treating his neighbor with deep, Christ-like care and compassion. I admire Ralph’s strength and maturity in his willingness to embrace his own vulnerability, a quality that has greatly strengthened our community. Thank you, Ralph, for showing me to simply “be” with others in a way that embodies the spirit of St. Francis. I am also going to need a crash course plumbing apprenticeship so the Casa doesn’t fall apart in your absence.
All of our missioners are role models of faith. Their trust in God, detachment from materialism, and commitment to the service of others are inspiring. May God bless their future endeavors!
Questions for Reflection: What qualities do you admire in members of your family, friends, or community? What are some memories that you share with them?