Well, I made it to Florida.
It's been a real struggle so far.
Please pray for me, I don't know if I'm going to like it here.
JUST KIDDING. I love it here. Florida has been nothing but good to me since I drove in a week ago! Leaving Minnesota and all the people I love so much was not easy (and tears were shed), but the Lord has been showering me with blessings ever since. I am so grateful!
Before I keep humble-bragging about how tan I've already gotten, the delicious cheese grits I ate the other night, and how BEAUTIFUL it is down here, let's talk about SNE!
SNE Minnesota took place on August 5-12 at the University of St. Thomas, as usual. Half of our staff and students were preparing for SNE Ohio the next week, but we hit the ground running with the same speed and zeal! I didn't really have any time to be nervous this week, even though I always get jitters in anticipation of meeting a bunch of new people (hello, FSU students!). I was either too busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off, or the Lord granted me a bunch of grace to make it through a crazy time with nothing but joy. Both are true.
The first full day of SNE is most always a Sunday, and is used as a retreat day before a full week of teaching and breakout sessions and small groups. We hear two talks, have priests available for Confession, and end the night with Adoration and some good ol'-fashioned surrendering to the Lord (if you so desire). The talks of the retreat day were centered around boldness: boldness in receiving mercy, and boldness in trust. Let me tell you, the Lord was about a bold work in my life during SNE! I'm still processing a lot of it, but the image given of being released from our 'bushel baskets' (analogy taken from Matthew 5) has stuck with me ever since. Here is a link to the talk I'm referring to: https://spo.org/sne-2017-talks/2017/8/9/bold-in-trust
And wow, these students!!! I'm blown away. They are so ready to set the Florida State campus on fire with their zeal for souls and joy in the Lord. These students have shown me nothing but genuine Southern hospitality since SNE. I can't wait to journey through this year with them!
I've only been in Tallahassee for just about a week, and it's amazing how much I already feel at home. We've had a few meetings here and there, but mostly our team has just been spending time together and enjoying being with one another before the craziness really begins this week. And so the adventure continues...40 degrees warmer.
Please keep us in your prayers! We are ready to bring the Kingdom to FSU's campus!
In Jesus Through Mary,
It's a pretty cool thing to be able to say I was one of the 500(ish) people at the last national School of the New Evangelization; especially considering I would have never planned to have been there while I was in college.
I remember the first time I went to SNE in 2012. I was going into my junior year at Texas State, I was going into my first year of living in Household as a student (and it would turn out to be my only), and I had just finished my third summer as a camp counselor at The Pines Catholic Camp. I was really tan (those were the days), really happy to be back with all of my college friends on a crazy road trip from Texas to Minnesota, but really really wiped out.
Long story short: I came, I saw, anddddddd I didn't really have the best time. In fact, I have distinct memories of coming back from SNE that year and telling people, "Yeah, it was really cool and I learned a lot, but I just don't think that I'm called to be a missionary."
God has a sense of humor and I was lying to myself.
Looking back, I think that week is when the Lord first invited me to a life on mission with Him. But I wasn't open, or ready, or confident; I was terrified. I didn't believe in a good and merciful Father back then; I believed in an angry and disappointed Father whose love was conditional and merit-based - and that I'd never be able to 'earn' it. So the thought of following a Father like that, what I falsely thought He was, was terrifying. Therefore I shut the thought out and away and tried not to think about it, and I think that had an effect on how the rest of SNE went for me. I could have had a better time, I think, had I been more open to the Lord and to what He wanted for me.
But the Lord is good and He redeems all. Here I am, four years later, still going to SNE's, living a life that is way more exciting, joyful, and richer than I ever could have planned out for myself. As a missionary - the very thing I said I never wanted to be! Because He isn't limited by my weaknesses and He isn't satisfied by the mediocre plans I have for my own life. THANK GOODNESS.
All of this to say that I am so grateful that the School of the New Evangelization is still in my life, and that I now get to watch lives change from the other side of things, as a staff member. I remember telling my best friend four years ago that after college I'd hoped to be a photographer, and maybe a missionary, too. This year at SNE, the Lord let me do both at once! What a gift. Photographing an entire week-long conference by yourself (minus all of the men's sessions #thankgoodness) is no easy task; but I really enjoyed taking on this challenge that was unlike any photography job I'd ever had before. I was pushed creatively (and physically, let's be real, I was on my feet a lot and I am not a very strong gal) each day, figuring out new ways to capture old moments over and over again. I'm pretty proud of the final products. With the start of two SNE's a year happening next summer (you can read more about that here), it was truly an honor to get to capture all of the moments of this final SNE of its kind. All of the photos I took can be found on SPO's Flickr page, but in the gallery below you can find some of my favorite shots.
Another year of mission kicks into high gear this week, with Newman Center Leadership Day tomorrow and our Household move-in/retreat starting on Wednesday and extending into the weekend. Please pray for all of us, as the adventure of this year begins!
To Jesus Through Mary,
My name is Rebecca. This blog is a documentation of my life as a missionary with Saint Paul's Outreach - in Minnesota, Florida, and everywhere in-between. Thanks for stopping by!