This last week it has really begun to sink in that I am about to leave not only Wisconsin but the midwest, which has led me to a lot of reflecting. Reflecting just on my life and how much my life has changed in the past few years.
This past Wednesday and Thursday night I had the privilege of chaperoning 7th & 8th graders at St. William's Catholic Church in Waukesha. The students were staying over night in church classrooms while they were at a service and outreach camp, during the day the students helped some Waukesha residents with some painting and cleaning.
St. William's is the church that I grew up in, where I was baptized, received my first Eucharist, and was confirmed. I have attended daily mass there throughout the summer and due to roof construction on the main part of the church, daily masses have been moved to what is now the Parish Hall, the space that used to be the church, which is where I was baptized (and where my parents were married!). So for most of this summer I've really appreciated how neat it has been for me to experience Christ and grow in my faith now in a place where my spiritual journey began over 24 years ago.
Something happened to me Wednesday night that made me appreciate this much more. Just before the students were going to bed we had a short devotion time. St. William's also serves as an elementary school so there are over 20 classrooms in the building, most of which were added when I was in high school. I didn't go to St. William's for elementary school but I did go there for Sunday school and a good chunk of those 20 classrooms were built when I was in high school. So of all the classrooms that we went to, we went to the one where I remember having one of my very first Sunday school classes in, I'm talking back to kindergarten or 1st grade. Before I went into the room I peaked in the classroom across the hall and the director of youth ministry asked me if anything looked different, I just laughed and thought about how long it has been since I had been in this hallway and how much it really has not changed.
After the devotion some of the kids showed me the room that I would be staying in. The same room that I taught 4 year old Sunday school in while I was a junior and senior in high school, seriously of all the rooms! I'm not sure why but before I walked down the hallway I got a little choked up. I was thinking about how much I used to hate going to Sunday school or Christian formation classes as a student, or why on earth I would ever want to teach a Sunday school class or go to Sunday mass while I was in high school. I thought about how much I got away from my faith during my first few years of college and finally I thought about where I am today and how thankful I am for Jesus completely turning my life upside down these past few years and making me realize how great life can be when you really try to surrender all to Him.
And now in 7 days I will be in New Jersey, the eve of another school year. Figuring out how I will reach out to students that might have had the same experience that I did or maybe even to someone who has never even heard the name Jesus Christ. And my experience this past week will push me to be bold, to not be shy, and to share Christ with others, because without all of the loving support I had at St. William's, if I had not heard the name of Christ........where would I be?
Thank you St. William's for being a disciple of Christ and a place that truly has shown His love. St. William of Vercelli pray for us, I love you Jesus, Amen.