Walking with students through 1-on-1 discipleship I have been able to see their desire to grow in their faith. We have walked together through different areas that make someone a strong disciple of Jesus. There have also been opportunities to challenge them and help them see the benefits of stepping outside of their comfort zone.
God has been good and has shown me how to trust that he truly works in our lives in his own and perfect timing. At the beginning of the year things started off great. I started discipleship with two freshman girls. Two-thirds into the semester one of the girls had to move back home. It was confusing. I didn’t understand why a curveball was thrown her way when she was having a good first semester, the Lord was working in her heart, and she was growing a lot. She went home and I haven’t been in contact with her since then. However, that opened up the opportunity for my team leader to invite me to disciple another student who really was yearning to run in her faith.
Ashton is a junior in college, and she and her boyfriend have loved playing board games with us missionaries. They introduced us to Ticket To Ride (which I then asked for as a Christmas gift). She was part of the women’s group that I co-led with another student. I got to know her as a friend as I spent time with her during the fall. This semester as we started discipleship together, we talked about everyday prayer, the sacraments, scripture, virtue, and fasting. We opened up the Catechism together and read what the Church says about the virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. We got to do service work with a couple other students and we’ve continued to get together to play board games.
It has been a blessing to see how the Lord was preparing both of our hearts. My heart needed to let go of the set schedule that I had in my mind of discipling someone- which was to walk with a student for a whole year. For her it was to see that she too wanted to take things more seriously, to be kept accountable, and to be asked to step out of her comfort zone because she knew she wanted to run.
We’ve gone through a Lenten book together, she led a Lenten bible study by herself, and I saw her step up in leading conversations. I hope that next semester she is able to continue running in her faith during her last semester and that she can inspire underclassmen to follow in her steps!
Greetings from Whitewater, Wisconsin! My
name is Jocelyn Marin and I am a first-year
missionary with Brew City Catholic, serving at
the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
A couple times a month, we missionaries host “Friday Formations.” These formation sessions are held specifically for UW-Whitewater students who are in discipleship and/or leading small groups within Warhawk Catholic. The aim of these formations is to develop leaders in the community and have all our students in discipleship come together to discuss themes we have been teaching them individually. We discussed the importance of language and healthy communication last week, based on the following text from St. James 3:5, 9-12.
"So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in the likeness of God. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? No more can salt water yield fresh."
This text brought about an engaging and fruitful discussion. Here are a couple conclusions we came to:
It is important for a community to be founded on healthy conversations. This includes a combination of affirming and correcting one another, if necessary. Both of these aspects of speech are important because it allows one to truly know oneself. It is common to think, “I wish I could see myself through someone else’s eyes!” Well, when used correctly, affirmation and fraternal correction do just that. These tools assist in self-discovery and accountability, and helps one to grow in both virtue and talents.
We also talked about how language can be destructive in communities, especially in gossip and sarcasm. While gossip is something that comes easily to mind when talking about harmful forms of communication, sarcasm is typically not. It is important to realize this, we concluded, because sarcasm is essentially a lie disguised as a joke and often times demeaning towards another person’s qualities.
Following our Friday Formation, I saw the effect this discussion had on our Whitewater students. In the following days, it was really encouraging to see people still discussing these ideas, and consciously trying to implement the principles we discussed into their own conversations.
Pax! My name is Joe Wiebersch, and I’m a first-year Brew City Catholic missionary at UW-Whitewater and Carroll University.
This is my second stint quarantining since becoming a missionary. God, why this time? Is there even a reason? The answer is a resounding YES! Because, bottom line, God has a plan for my life, and the detours such as quarantine are a part of it!
So what is the lesson for this quarantine? Each time I have quarantined there has been a different lesson. In December, it was learning that I needed to grow in reliance on God and to break free from some of the things holding me back from praying like wasting my time and especially too much screen time.
This time, however, the circumstances are quite different. Since most of my household was exposed, we have been able to quarantine together, more like the original lockdown. And being with other people has given me a very different perspective on quarantining and taught me another valuable lesson: learning to be interruptible.
In her book The Lost Art of Sacrifice, Vicky Burbach quotes C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, in which a senior devil is training a younger one. The advice given is chilling in its accuracy in terms of how I, how we, often view our time:
“Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury.... Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him [the person being tempted] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. They [unexpected guests] anger him because he regards his time as his own and feel that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.”
I am not unlike the person being tempted in the quote above. I like to be spontaneous, but on my own terms. I schedule out appointments, meetings with others, and sometimes still feel like they are interrupting “my” day, and that I should be in control, doing (or not doing) what seems best or most appealing to me with my time. But that is not what I am called to. That’s not the loving option. And so this quarantine, the lesson I am learning has to do with paying attention to others and their needs. From taking a break to help a student with homework, to praying a rosary with a roommate before bed instead of going right to sleep. . . from helping a roommate pump up her bike tires (literally right now!!) to letting the noise of a full house interrupt my thoughts from time to time, this quarantine is about learning to trust God, to be a steward of my time, using it well, but also being available to those around me. Because it is in these little moments of interruption that I am called to remember that loving God consists also in loving those around me, through everyday little moments like these.
Fellow missionary Mari, and me in our "home office" during quarantine.
Hi folks! My name is Teresa Wolfe and I am a first year missionary at the UW-Milwaukee Newman Center. I enjoy cooking, singing, and sharing Jesus and His message of unconditional love with the students and young adults I encounter in community.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a cat person. That doesn’t mean I have any grudges against dogs, I just don’t always want to match their energy level. However, over the past few months, I have realized that dogs can be great evangelists.
As part of the missionary project, we are matched with a mentor that we meet with a few times a month. These meetings can range from intellectual reading and discussion to asking for advice about ministry and life to bonding over random things. The woman that I have had the blessing to meet with has two adorable dogs, Quimby and Rosie. With the warmer weather, we have started taking Rosie for walks on our meetings which led to some beautiful encounters.
One such encounter happened a few Fridays ago. Whenever people go for a walk with a dog, there seems to be an open invitation to start a conversation because people love to greet dogs. We were out walking with Rosie when we crossed paths with a woman who was also walking her dog. As the dogs greeted one another, we started talking with the woman about her puppy and about Rosie when suddenly my mentor and the woman realized that they knew each other from walks in the past.
Conversation quickly turned to the woman’s previous dog, who had recently passed away. We were able to listen to her story about the dog’s illness and passing and how she had taken time to grieve and heal before buying a new puppy. With the pandemic and winter, it seemed like this woman had not been able to grieve or celebrate the new puppy with anyone. After about fifteen minutes of chatting with this woman, we said farewell and continued on with Rosie. It was such a beautiful moment of entering into the sorrows and joys of life with a stranger, all because we took a dog on a walk.
Moral of the story is that dogs can lead to powerful encounters with people where we are able to show God’s love to strangers simply by acknowledging and listening to them. While I am still a cat person, I have found a new appreciation for dogs.
Thanks for reading all the way to the bio! My name is Mariah Navis, and I am a first-year missionary with Brew City Catholic at UW-Milwaukee. This year has brought so many blessings, especially joy, and I am so excited to share some of them with you!