|Anna Metzger||Megan Hamilton||Tom Lenihan, Jr.|
Path to FMS: My desire to go on mission started back in high school when I would go on a mission trip each summer. After freshman year of college, I went on a short-term trip to Guatemala where I encountered the economically poor in a very real way. I experienced first-hand the Spanish language and Guatemalan culture, and I knew that one week wasn’t going to be long enough for me. The following summer, I studied abroad in Costa Rica for six weeks and enjoyed every minute of my time there. The summer after my junior year, I served on staff with the same mission organization I traveled with in high school. My summers on staff leading mission trips were spiritually trying, but they were also fruitful, and time and again, after each summer I served, I knew that one summer of service was not long enough to fill the space in my heart.
I was first attracted to FMS because of their relationship-centered approach to service. FMS promotes a culture of encountering people where they are and walking alongside them, which matches my own values. I find joy in investing in people, showing them compassion and love, and accompanying them on their own journey.
Scripture passage meaningful to mission: Proverbs 8:10 “Choose my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.” Since I accepted a job right out of college instead of immediately going mission, I decided I would work to pay off my student loans, and then listen to what the Lord was calling me to next. Well, the Lord redirected my thoughts and presented Proverbs 8:10 in my devotion one morning. The verse spoke loud and clear to me. He said, “My dear daughter, Anna, choose my instruction and guidance towards my will for your life instead of working for silver money. Don’t ignore the knowledge I have given you, but rather live by it instead of being driven by income.” So here I am surrendering to God’s call in my life to serve overseas. I am trusting that He will provide.
Catholic role model: There are two Catholics who have been excellent role models for me, and they both go by T(h)eresa: my mom and Mother Teresa. My mom has set an incredible faith-filled example for me. She is devout in her faith, constantly studies her bible, and is obedient to the Holy Spirit by talking to anyone and everyone about our marvelous God. Mother Teresa inspires me by her acts of love and compassion. She had a radical love that changed the way people serve the marginalized. I am compelled by her selfless, humble acts of giving and her kind heart towards others.
Social Justice areas of interest:I am passionate about immigration because I have friends who are undocumented and face the reality of the issue every day. After my involvement with an organization called Border Angels in San Diego, CA that strives to keep people safe and unite families, empathy in my heart grew stronger for those who are fleeing to the United States in hopes of building a better life for themselves.
I am also passionate about homelessness and hunger because of various experiences that have taught me that people who experience homelessness and hunger are really just like me. They have their own stories and struggles, but their identity remains the same as mine.
Finally, I am passionate about education because of the week I spent in Pueblo Modelo, a small village just outside of Zacapa, Guatemala. While there, I volunteered at a school and saw the drastic differences between their education and the education I was privileged to receive. My passion for teaching took a new turn and continued to be shaped as I worked with an ESL student in Kentucky. School did not come easy to him, yet his perseverance kept him going. Both the kids in Guatemala and the ESL student pushed onward towards brighter futures despite the challenges they faced. Through them, I can see how valuable education is and my perspective is broadened.
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Hometown: I was born in Evanston Illinois and grew up there, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Louisville Ky. My “hometown” though is probably Baltimore, Maryland where I went to college and lived for over forty years.
Path to FMS: The Peace Corps showed me how much I love volunteering internationally, and that I had a gift for making friends across cultural lines. As my faith continues to grow, the prospect of living simply, and sharing the love of God and the kindness of Jesus with the economically poor and marginalized of other countries calls to me strongly. Prior to Peace Corps, I had traveled extensively in East and West Europe, Morocco, and Turkey. The specific catalyst for me applying to FMS was a retreat at Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia. Housed in a former Catholic Workers house, my Bethlehem Farm prayer and meditation confirmed for me that living in community, and working with the economically poor and marginalized was indeed an immediate goal. More recently, I am co-founder and founding program director for the Creative Alliance (CA), a community-based arts center in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. Witnessing CA flourish as a professional and vibrant organization became a groundbreaking example of the ways that the arts can be used as a tool for economic and community development. Ultimately, this laid the groundwork for my becoming an FMS missioner.
Social Justice and population areas of interest and why:As a sexual-assault survivor, I am interested in supporting those survivors and working to see they get the resources they need for recovery and healing. As a recovering alcoholic/addict, I want to continue to help those interested in working toward recovery and sobriety. In addition, I have family members and dear friends who are part of the LGBT community. I have spent decades working for respect and understanding for that community and look forward to continuing to do so. Finally, I have worked with indigenous peoples and would love to serve in ways that support their efforts to gain protection for their traditions and lands. I believe people have a right to control their public lands, waters, and to create a healthy future for their communities.
Scripture Passage Meaningful to Mission:In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus talks of the joy and beauty that comes with turning our lives over to God’s work. Specifically, Matthew 6:28-29 says, “And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even king Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers.” I love this affirmation of simplicity and faith, with its clear statement against vanity, and materialism.
A Catholic role model: I have decided to dedicate my mission service with FMS to two people: my aunt, Rose Desch, and Catholic advocate for people with disabilities, Jean Vanier.
When I was a girl, my mother’s sister, Rose Desch, took two years off from her professional life to volunteer as a nurse with a medical assistance group in Guatemala. Aunt Rosie was a life-long Catholic, a wonderful aunt, and the first person to model for me the work of serving as a volunteer abroad.
I stumbled across Jean Vanier on YouTube and was immediately taken by his effortless sharing of God’s love and kindness, by his effective work supporting the disabled.
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Path to FMS: In the spring of 2018, I took a graduate theology class by distance learning at Duquesne University. My professor, Dr. O’Brien, had visited Ghana, Africa, for research, and at times would show us slides of our sisters and brothers she met while there. She spoke of the Church there as alive and thriving, yet struggling. That awakened in me a longing to experience CHURCH, the living, breathing, struggling body of Jesus, in a non-Global North setting. I longed to live side by side with and learn from my sisters and brothers in a totally different culture – to live minority – and to not have access to the communities, products, and services I have so often taken for granted as a Caucasian, American male. I came to learn about FMS through reconnecting with my Franciscan roots (I had been a friar in the Midwest from 1978 until early 1981.
Scripture Passage meaningful to missioner:The Beatitudes: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full’ you find yourselves cared for” (The Message based on Matthew 5: 3 and 7).
There is a song/prayer I have often heard on Christian radio: “More of you and less of me / Oh, my Father, I want to be.” Too often in my life I have sought to receive accolades for my accomplishments, and yet all that I have has come from our lavishly loving God. In the moments when I have felt unable to meet a particular challenge, God and my communities – faith, family, friends and work – have surrounded me with love, acceptance, and subsistence.
Catholic role model: One faithful role model of mine is Pastor Rick Warren: radio evangelist, author, pastor, and gifted preacher. Rick, with God’s inspiration, is able to give me pithy expressions that I can carry with me to face each day.
Another role model and saint I admire very much is St. Thomas More. As a senior at Father Judge High School, we read “A Man For All Seasons.” Thomas More stood up to King Henry VIII and refused to sign the oath of allegiance because Thomas’ allegiance was to our God, the King, and no earthly King! I hope I have the same courage to live my faith, even if under pressure from an earthly power or friend to deny my Christian Catholic faith.
Social justice areas of interest:I am Pro-Life – womb to tomb. My late wife, Janet, and I were unable to conceive a child. We were blessed with our daughter through international adoption at Welcome House, run by the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. We, people of all faiths, need to step forward in witness to the gift of life and offer our homes, our empty convents, rectories, monasteries, friaries to give shelter to pregnant women who, for whatever reason, are struggling with being pregnant.
I also believe in equal pay for all who want to work. Each laborer needs a fair and equitable wage for the work in which they are engaged.
I have been a professional driver for students with special needs and I have come to know my passengers and their families. I love people, but particularly little children. Little ones are so open and non-judgmental. The needs of children are very basic: love, acceptance, food, water, shelter, education, family and community.
Lastly, I was blessed, because of hospice care, to be able to pray with my wife and with our families as we surrounded my wife in her final days of life here on Earth. Hospice is so important as a way to help the person who is dying and the family who is struggling with losing their loved one.
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