In the Legion, we call an apostolic assignment a “mission.” Last year, I got the dream mission.
Legionary vocation director Father Edward Hopkins welcomed me to SEEK 2017, the San Antonio conference hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). Taking a break from my role as a teaching assistant to Legionary novices and humanists in Cheshire, I flew south to talk and listen to enthusiastic college students about the priestly vocation. How exciting!
Colorful university flags fluttered through the halls of the convention center as troops of men and women brimming over with smiles sought out the most renowned Catholic speakers in the country: Sister Bethany Madonna, Crystalina Evert, Archbishop Chaput, Ryan Anderson, and others. Their 13,000 listeners were a tribute to the uncanny success of the FOCUS program, which sends teams of four young missionaries to college campuses for two years of full-time evangelization—a daring enterprise, to say the least.
In San Antonio, I glowed. Adoration, confession, youthful camaraderie, and smart speakers on pertinent topics spelled a recipe for success.
But my experience at the FOCUS conference was not unique. I have also gone twice to Louisiana for Holy Week missions. In February, I went to California for the Guadalupe Radio Convention and in July, I will help with the summer program for boys at the apostolic school in Indiana. (All these pans in the fire, plus my classes and writing!) These enterprises—feeding the homeless under the highways of New Orleans, funding Catholic radio in Los Angeles, and running a minor seminary under any circumstances—they are daring, too. Daring and inspiring.
I come back from such trips renewed, grateful for the opportunities the Legion has given me to grow. My adventuring forth with Christ has grown my heart, matured my convictions, and given me the skills to engage young and old with the message of the Kingdom. And that’s what internship is. It is this very privileged time to work closely with experienced priests, develop intellectually and spiritually, and also to imagine possibilities for future projects. Want to hear mine?
It is this: evangelize fiction writers. You know from my last article that I like writing and even teach it. But there are a lot of people who write more skillfully and reach more people. What if those people, the creators of popular paperbacks and New York Times bestsellers, combined the exhilaration of tale-telling with the power of faith? Thriller, adventure, suspense, romance—all cleverly crafted and with sustainable moral principles. The joy of a riveting story not often speaking of Christ but always written in him. A community of writers committed to this. An Academy where they learn, write and pray. It’s daring, but is it possible?
Going to San Antonio for the FOCUS conference was a dream mission. It helped me understand what’s possible. It helped me understand our mission to dream.