This past summer the studies stage members of the formation center were sent to different teams of consecrated women around the United States to help with their summer activities. I went to Chicago and helped with the ECYD missionary program.
We had 11 high school girls from 4 countries living in the consecrated house in Chicago from June 18th – July 28th. There were 3 from Mexico, 1 from Spain, 2 from Ireland, and 5 from the United States. These girls wanted to give their summer to Christ, to build friendships centered on Him, and to serve others.
My role was to help the other consecrated women with whatever they needed, and be there for the girls – accompany them in their apostolic ventures, help lead them in prayer, and be a testimony of the love God has for each one. I could recount all the things we did – the soup kitchens we went to, the arm wrestling contest we had (the consas beat all the girls ☺), driving the streets of Lower Wacker at 5 in the morning and giving homeless people coffee and a sandwich, going on road trips to do challenge activities, etc… But I prefer to share what I experienced there and how the people I encountered impacted me.
When I first arrived to the house in Chicago, I was immediately welcomed by the consecrated there. They made me feel I wasn’t just someone they were happy to see but someone who they had been anticipating. Saira Herboth, Emily Roman, Sonia Baldwin (all consecrated women working in the Chicago area), the team leaders Cori and Anna Maria, and I joined forces to help create experiences for these girls to encounter God, realize the gift they are, and live out their call to love others. We would often come together to make sure we were all on the same page and brainstorm ideas to help the girls have the best experience we could offer. Besides our focus on the girls, each one knew the priority and place of prayer life even in the midst of the crazy summer. Support and concern for each other was also a clear priority. Every day I was asked, “How are you?” “Do you need anything?” “Can I help?” I couldn’t help but ask myself, who am I that people should care about me so much? I left Chicago reminded of the gift of my sisters – a gift that I never expected or feel I deserve.
The ECYD missionaries were also a gift for me. These girls spoke to me of the need to forget myself. They reminded me people are thirsting for God. What I had to offer them wasn’t a sparkling personality, a pretty face, a professional approach, but our Lord Jesus Christ. It brought me on my knees to seek this man I have given my life to and find all my security in the love He has for me. I didn’t have time to be insecure about stupid superficial things or let my sense of self-worth be dependant on what others thought of me. They didn’t need that from me and they deserved better. They deserved the pure unconditional love of God and motivated me to strive to give them nothing less.
The consecrated and the ECYD missionaries filled me with hope. People, this past summer in Chicago, Illinois there were 11 high school girls who gave their summers to Jesus and brought people closer to him. Besides that, there were also 10 consecrated women who have left their homes and, some, their countries, to give their lives to Jesus and serve His people. THAT IS INCREDIBLE. I return to my studies at Mater Ecclesiae College with energy and enthusiasm to spend my senior year full of gratitude for this family God has called me to.