Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer summer summer!

So I am still on my happy start to summer high! Last night was great! One kid who did sign up didn't show up but two who didn't sign up did show up! They are such a delightful, easy going, fun group. I am really looking forward to working with them next year. After our pizza party I road my bike over to the public library which is always an enjoyable experience. It was warmer than it has been at night here so it was a very pleasant early summer ride back home. I was truly content.
In totally unrelated spiritual news. Today I went to Group Strength Training Class. The woman who teaches the class is my idol. She is so fun, energetic, she's thin but fit and athletic. As a hobby, I teach cycling classes at the Y. I'm also certified to teach Zumba classes but am not on the schedule. While I was filling up my water bottle the instructor said to me, "So, when are you going to teach group strength?" I explained how I would love to but need to be certified. I didn't even know that the instructor knew I was interested in doing this. She said she would remind the head of adult fitness about me! I was so flattered that she acknowledged that I would be good at this. It just made me happy. Plus I might be helping out with a Zumba kids class which would be really fun to. Yeah, life is good. Tonight the only thing I have to do is make dinner and watch Lost! Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Day

These past two weeks things have really slowed down around her. I come to work thinking, "What the heck am I going to do today?" Before I know it, it's nearly 4pm. I think I found something to occupy my time with over the summer months. I was checking Frontline again, trying to email the program I watched about teens online to the Director of Youth Ministry and I found a bunch of other documentaries that looked interesting. So far for the summer I have planned, watching Frontline, catching up on my reading, and keeping this blog updated. Oh yeah, and whatever other "work" takes up my time (which is only going to be about 25 hours per week!). So yeah, summer!
Had my meeting with the priest today. It went well. We discussed the good parts of the year and the things which I need to work on, which is mainly me being more confident, less timid, and willing to communicate and stand up for my ideas. This is good since it is something I have recognized myself as an area of improvement. We talked about my relationship with my other bosses and such. I brought up the issue of me starting a family. I don't know I get all worked up about things that haven't happened yet. Of course the priest said we would cross that bridge when we got to it...duh! So yeah. I am ready to take on my third year here at the parish. If all goes as planned this will be the longest I've been at a job my whole adult life! Would I rather be teaching, sure. Will I renew my teaching license, of course. Will I always keep my ears open and eyes peeled for God is calling me next YES! Will I dutifully and enthusiastically do what I am called to do in the here and now, I will! So that's about all I know!
Tonight I'm doing a first ever 8th Pizza party, to get the kids psyched up for next year. Only 6 are coming so far, but I will minister to those six to the best of my ability. This officially ends the Youth Ministry school year! On to Summer!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Return

Well, a successful return from a nice long weekend! At first I thought I would have nothing to do today but I ended up working on a picture slide show of all the events we did (or that I took pictures of) in Youth Ministry. It ended up being 6 minutes long. I’ve really done a lot since I’ve gotten here. My attitude is still pretty positive but today when I read that one of the “nuns” at the local Catholic School was leaving my heart hoped, just a little that there might be an opening for me. I sent an email for a little investigation. I don’t really know if I would want to be at the Catholic school here in town. As I’ve mentioned it’s pretty conservative and slightly backwards but I think my heart will always long to be a teacher. I still believe that I have a purpose here and that there is work that God is calling me to do.
On Friday I called all the households with graduating seniors. We are honoring our graduates and since we are a Newman Center we are contacting the ministry program at the schools where these graduates will be attending to let them know they are coming. One father I spoke with who is a very active member but whose son is not even baptized was so pleased that I called. He gave me his son’s college information. When I asked him about attending Mass he replied in a weary voice, “I just don’t think I’ll be able to get him to go.” He truly appreciated my effort. And to think I wasn’t even going to call them because I knew the son wasn’t active. That is the irony or perhaps the challenge of working in ministry. We just have to keep trying no matter what. More than likely the outcome won’t be what we expect it to be. Or we might never know if we’ve affected someone’s life.
In other news, I’m meeting with the priest tomorrow to talk about my position next year. He keeps making it sound like there is going to be a big change or something. He has an odd sense of humor so I can’t really tell if he’s just being funny or what. Much as I am challenged by this job if he said to me, “There is no position for you.” I don’t know what I would do. I am really starting to grow into this parish. My identity rests here. I can see me bringing my babies to church here and having our college students babysit. I was just about to write that I would be devastated by this. But, I don’t think I would be. I’d be sad, but I would move on. Not like when my position was cut at the middle school I taught at. I felt like I could have worked there for the rest of my life. I know I don’t feel that way about this position. I think I would like to be a part of this parish for the rest of my life, but to be in the same position I don’t think so. Hmmmm, something to ponder. We shall see.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Catching Up

Another quiet day here at my office. I was the only one here for a long time…not a good idea. Lots of web surfing and facebooking happened. But seriously, last night’s bowling event was great! It reinforces the belief I have that we must do more social activities in Youth Ministry. I also let the young people use my camera (don’t tell my husband it’s a $500 camera!). They took some really crazy shots. I’ll share some of the better ones they took of me. Because it’s been so slow I’ve gotten a chance to catch up on my reading, of books as well as websites. I found this really great one today One the most inspiration clips I watched was this one. I think I’ll be visiting this daily for a little inspiration! Other than that things are going well. I am anticipating and end of the year review with the priest next week that should provide something interesting to write about. Hopefully I’ll post tomorrow and then we off for the 3 day Memorial Day weekend.
I am looking forward to spending the evening with some friends who are in town to help with Steamboat Season. Had this been a few weeks (I guess even a week) earlier I couldn’t have spent time with them because I had to work. I really struggle with having to sacrifice my freedom like that. You don’t realize how much you have to give up until you get a “break” and think, “Oh I normally have to take students to the Catholic Worker house on Thursdays, and I wouldn’t have been able to go out to dinner spur of the moment.” Again, another reason I long for “normalcy”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Conversation Part 2

So, after letting yesterday’s conversation roll around in my head all last night I had a thought. I was trying to go to sleep when all the things I should have said were popping through my mind. Then why don’t you just say them?! Was my final thought before finally falling asleep? I slept well but when I woke up remembered that there was something important I ought to do today. I considered my decision throughout the morning as I worked out and walked dog. When I arrived at my office I was boldly going to approach my boss, but found his office to be closed. So I shot off and email asking to meet with him. Within the hour he responded and we met. And do you know what? I felt so much better! I told him how yesterday's conversation took me by surprise because for the past few months I was happy and I had tried to set my troubles aside. I said that sometimes I feel inferior or subordinate to him, especially when he questions something I do. I also admitted that I need to stop interpreting what and how he says things to me and if I am bothered by it to ask for clarification. I don't know if he got it but at least I said it. I need to stop seeing this man as a weirdo, or an old guy. It is not that I don’t respect him. It’s just that for the longest time I have had myself convinced that we are just two very different people and we just don’t get along. After reading my entry and the email I sent to a friend I realized again that this is not true. We are much more similar than I think either one of us realizes. I really do want to get along with him. I guess it is just going to take a little more effort on my part.
Other than that things are pretty slow and boring around here. I don’t really have any programming coming up that I need to plan for so pretty much all day I dinked around on the internet, watched last night’s Frontline which was very interesting and talked about the youth of today and their connection (obsession) with the internet, read a little… that’s about it. Tonight is the last official night of Youth Ministry for the school year. We’re going bowling. Last year this was really fun so I’m looking forward to it. I wonder what I’ll do next week??????

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I know I said I was going to make a more consistent effort at keeping this blog updated. Truth be told I took a short break from my job. After putting in 42 hours in just 4 days I needed to get away from this building.
Today I returned to work in my office only to be met with a difficult situation. Not so much difficult in a “hard to do” sense but difficult as in hard to deal with. My heart is so confused right now. So my Campus Ministry boss who I have mentioned before asked to meet with me today. This did not seem so unusual to me as we normally meet on Tuesdays but since we literally have no programming going on I was curious as to what we were going to talk about. Well, you could have blown me over with feather. He had a somewhat serious look on his face when he said, “I have noticed that you do not seem to be happy working with me. What is that all about?” Whoa! I guess I haven’t been as subtle as I thought. It is true I am very challenged working with this man. As I’ve mentioned before, he (and the rest of my colleagues) are in their 50’s and I am in my late 20’s this in and of itself is a challenge. Another challenge is my boss just has a very different personality. He is very quiet and private, doesn’t share much of himself with others. He does not offer praise for a job well done. Last year was even worse, he didn’t even tell me what he wanted to done and then would be aggravated when I didn’t do it right. So yeah, I’m not happy. But, I have been trying so hard to just let it go, to just do my thing, to be myself. So when he confronted me with this issue I couldn’t bring up specific examples of why it is challenging to work with him. I wish I could have. Because this meeting was at 9am I’ve been letting the thoughts whirl around me head all day. I did tell him that I myself am not very good at expressing when something bothers me, I let it fester and boil inside of me which I am sure comes off as negative anyway. I just don’t know how to work with this guy. And I want to I really want to. He is such a good man. Here is something I emailed to a friend. This took place after the concert in memory of the religious studies professor who died (my boss’s name has been removed)

The way things are being done at (name of parish) , it’s just not right. Things don’t have to be this way. I shouldn’t be put in the position of low woman on the totem pole. I have so much to give but am constantly being oppressed and criticized.” If I do take this job am I giving up? Am I a failure? Should stay and fight? I don’t know if I am strong enough to stay and do that.
Then,(my boss's) musical group came up to perform. They played a song as a group. Then (my boss) spoke about a song that our professor loved to hear him play and his voice cracked as he told the story. It was a beautiful story and his voice cracked again as he sang the song for our professor. I was truly struck with a moment of grace. Here is the man I work with everyday who NEVER and I do mean NEVER expresses any emotion to me and never shares a part of himself with me, nearly crying in front of an entire audience. And I realized that he and I are not so different people. But he doesn’t see this. I just wished so badly that things could be different. That he could open up to me and see me and treat me as an equal. Not feel threatened by me and treat me like a servant. I am not saying he is mean to me and he always thanks me for the little errands and jobs I do for him. But I think as long as we are both here he will always see himself as the Campus Minister and me as the Associate Campus Minister. I don’t know if it is because I am young or a woman or what. Sometimes I get the feeling that he doesn’t really like me. I just don’t know if I can deal with that for a life time. I know that I have talked to Father about this and he just confirms that this is my boss’s personality. It just makes me so sad. Things could be so different, so wonderful. The whole situation makes me feel like I cannot do a good job within my ministry. I just don’t know what to do. Wait it out? Fight it out? Leave?

At that point I was interviewing for another job. But I decided to stay and fight. Or rather God decided as I didn't get the job. I just wished when we had this conversation earlier today that I would have been prepared. Maybe it’s better this way. I had let the past go. Now I can only change how I react to things in the future. I am glad he brought it up, even if it is painful.

I worry though, about how much more of this I can take. Perhaps it is just the end of the year talking but, I do seriously plan on becoming pregnant, sometime soon. I don’t know how my body will react to that. What if I can’t do all that is expected of me? What happens after I have a child? I try not to think of these things but I am a perpetual worrier. I must pray more, I’ve gotten away from it. I just so badly want a normal life, one that I don’t have to work so hard to be happy at.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


So it is this ministry that has led me to write this blog. I am currently at the end of my second year as Associate Campus Minister and Coordinator of Youth Ministry. It has not been an easy two years. In fact I have applied and sought out several (5 to be exact) other jobs over these two years. Fortunately God has gently told me that this is where I am suppose to be, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. A woman I work with told me that it took her two years to fully realize that this is a ministry not a job. I didn’t know what she meant until a few months ago.
In addition to the normal challenges that ministry brings I am faced with what I call our “dysfunctional” parish staff. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the people I work with. We are just all so unique and sometimes interact like oil and water. Also, it is balancing act working with high school students and college students. There’s always something going on.
Because of my situation for the longest time I thought I wasn’t good at this “job” I wasn’t cut out for ministry. Admidtly my heart is still attached to teaching but I know that God had called me here for a purpose.

A little background on the place where I work. I am the only person on staff under the age of 48, with the majority of the staff being in their 50’s and having worked here 10 years or more. The Priest is a brilliant and dramatic man who essentially is the boss of all us. However, I also have to other bosses I answer to. One for Youth Ministry who is a dear woman who I get along with really well. Sometimes I think her ideas for working with young people are a little off base but she does her job (D.R.E. grades K-8) really well. My other boss is quiet an eccentric man. He keeps to himself and no one knows a whole lot about him. He has such a kind heart and a passion for finding Christ in the least of God’s people. However, sometimes (most times) he treats me as a nuisance and expects me to do things similar to him. This is mostly where I am challenged. I often feel boxed in by his expectations of me. I don’t have a lot of freedom to do new programs or even do current ones in my own style. I am slowing feeling that this is changing.

What had changed most is me and my attitude. This past winter a beloved professor and mentor of mine ( and so many others) passed away from Cancer. He taught me so much about ministry and the always believed in my gifts. He didn’t tell me how hard it would be. How jaded I would become after the school I loved to much didn’t need me anymore, how the priest I idolized would leave the priesthood to marry a young woman, how my heart would break when he left this world. After a very spiritual experience on a Spring Break service trip, which I led by myself I realized what a gift I have. I know that my youth, my kindness, my openness are the gifts that I bring to these young people. For now I am here in this place that God has called me to. I am coming to realize that all these experiences have made me who I am. It is my role in ministry to wake up every day and ask God how I am best serve him that day.

The most challenging part is the hours. I rarely get to see my husband. It is currently 11:00pm on a Tuesday evening. My husband is safely tucked in bed, probably snoring away. I am in the basement of our building attending to the students who are studying for finals. My husband and I are planning on starting a family soon. I don’t know how my “job” will fit into all this but I do know that my child and family will be first. If the expectations of this job don’t allow for that it might be time for a change. But, we’ll worry about that when we get there!

Who am I?

Who am I?
I guess it is best to start with a short introduction of who I am and the abbreviated version of my journey thus far. When I was in middle school I was moved so often and so deeply my faith and minor religious experiences. My family belonged to a great parish in our small mid-west town. It was truly a community and a church family. I was active in my parish. I attended Catholic school my whole life and by the time I was in high school I knew that I wanted to serve God in ministry and religious education. I never looked back, I never questioned, and I never even toyed with the idea that I was called for something else. I just continued on full force into my college career. I chose to attend the local Catholic University choosing of course to major in Religious Studies with secondary education, minoring in Spanish and music just to add a little variety to my life. I considered a call to the religious life for a brief period of time but never really truly felt that call.
My college experience was unbelievable to say the least. I was blessed to be surrounded by teachers and students who helped me to grow in my spirituality. My formal theological education was a bit lacking but those four and half years were a time when I felt most intimately connected with God.
Unbeknownst to me, outside that college campus the world was changing. The human aspect of our Church was making decisions that would affect the faith that nourished my childhood years. The parish I had so loved and cherished was being closed. The schools I attended were suffering from lack of enrollment, yet I was blinded by all that. Until I got to the student teaching portion of my formal education.
I digress briefly for one moment to explain a theory I have on religious attitudes (it connects with my personal experience eventually). My parents are part of the generation that lived through Vatican II. They were part of the group that readily accepted these changes and the “freedom” that seemed to go along with them. They were married in the 1970’s where “chinga chonga” (lot’s of instruments) Masses were the norm. They had the theme from Romeo & Juliet played at their wedding and had a full Mass even though my dad wasn’t Catholic yet. I was born in 1980 and feel that during the time that I grew up our culture was still facing the effects of the free and easy 60’s and 70’s. Rules? The Catechism? What’s that? I thought we ditched the idea of Purgatory with Vatican II. This is the Catholic Church that I grew up in. Even my college experience was a reflection of this.
When I got to the student teaching part of my life boy was I shocked! Here I was 22 years old and I had NO IDEA that the Catholic Church was against the use of artificial contraceptives!! And that was just the beginning! How could I have gone my whole life without knowing “the rules”? If you are hearing “the rules” for the first time they sound kind of crazy (especially if the person you are student teaching with doesn’t explain them very well) and you might not always agree with them!
I made it through my semester of student teaching knowing that at the end of it there was a job waiting for me. Not a teaching job, but a job in the parish as Coordinator of Religious Education. Not only was there a job but there was an awesome priest who, I’ll admit now I totally idolized and had only dreamed about working with. He had been my high school chaplain and senior religion teacher.
I did love working with him and the other young gals that were my coworkers. But, towards the end of my first year there I was offered a teaching position at the Catholic Middle school in town. I so wanted to try my hand at teaching and gave up the parish position to teach. And I LOVED it! I loved it so much. I loved working with middle school kids. I loved being with young people all day long (the summers off didn’t hurt either). I loved the fact that we weren’t like the high school who hired nuns who wore habits and taught the Baltimore Catechism. It was hear that I learned where my theological knowledge was lacking, but when you’re teaching middle scholars you can take your time finding the answers and explaining things in simple terms. At the same time I was in a serious relationship with a wonderful man. I thought that this was the life! I could see myself working there for a lifetime, livening in my home town, and settling down and marrying the man I loved.
It was then that my hopes and dreams were crushed. After they had begged me to come and teach because they needed me so badly I got cut in the first of many teacher cuts, due to lack of enrollment and funding. I was truly devastated. My mind was made up that I loved teaching, I needed to teach, I wanted to teach, and I would teach no matter what it took! This man, who loved me so much, loved me enough to let me go and try out these new teaching wings of mine.
I moved to a town about 90 minutes from my home town. It was the first time I had lived away from my family. My first year was a challenge as I worked with high school students for the first time and found them to be more resistant to religious than middle schoolers. I missed my home desperately, especially my boyfriend. At the end of my first year, with a contract signed for the following school year my boyfriend and I got engaged. It certainly makes a difference knowing you are going “home” at the end of a school year. I enjoyed my seconded year more than my first; I was also working with middle schoolers again. I truly was sad to leave but was so joyful to know that I was spending the rest of my life with a man I was so in love with. I had no idea where I would be working. I was fairly certain that there wouldn’t be any openings at the school I had previously taught at, not to mention I didn’t want to deal with the messiness that was still happening in the Catholic School system. Then I heard about a position at the Newman Center, a new double position, two part time roles combined to create a full time employee.

An end and a beginning

Where or where to begin? As I sit here typing I wonder to myself if this will even last. I have started several blogs and websites in the past but have not maintained them for more than a few months. My reasons for starting this blog are many. For one I am amazed at the lack of ministry blogs that I see when I search out there on Google. Oh sure there are plenty of blogs that fall under the category of ministry or religion. Yet I find them to be either too theological or a little bit fluffy. I know one thing for sure, this blog with not be theological. I hope that it will not be too fluffy either. I do identify myself as a Roman Catholic and have and undergraduate degree in religious studies but I am by no means a theologian, I don’t think I ever will be. It is only in this recent year that I have found my spirituality again. This is another reason for writing this blog. As a young high school student I loved to write. I don’t write very often these days. One of my most beloved English teachers once told that to be a writer you must write every day. I also believe that in order to maintain my relationship with God I must pray every day. So this writing will be my prayer, my reflections my thoughts. I also feel as though I am on a journey of self discovery. It is only in recent months that I have come to recognize this. I wish that I had written more and journaled my past journey. I have come so far and don’t really want to relive or rewrite all of it. Finally blogging is the “it” thing these days. I am addicted to reading a couple of blogs daily. Perhaps, this blog will speak to someone else on a similar journey. Or maybe it might serve as a small form of entertainment to others. I guess it is also possible that no one will read this. After all it is just the ramblings of one solitary spiritual soul mostly speaking from the heart. I’m not sure how I feel about putting myself out there like this. We shall see.