Dear Sister: What's a missionary?
What does it mean to be a missionary? What missions have you been on?
When I was about in the second grade I told my teacher that I was going to be a teacher some day and kept that idea for many years. After the 8th grade, I decided to go with a couple of my classmates to Precious Blood High School which was affiliated with the Sisters of the Precious Blood at Salem Heights in Dayton. There I became aware of how a Sister of the Precious Blood lived and some of their ministries.
After High School I decided to enter the congregation. Before signing my papers, my Dad said, “just remember every life is like a rose: some beautiful times and some thorny ones.” At the same time, on signing the recommendation, my pastor said, “you will be a good missionary.” I really didn’t know what he meant except that maybe I would go to North Dakota or California which at that time seemed far away to me. Now I see that things have a different perspective at different times of our lives due to one’s experiences.
During my Novitiate year, our congregation began the mission in Chile. It was exciting to be with the Sisters preparing to go on this new venture. In a few years I volunteered to go to Chile and was asked to go a decade later. But before that, I professed my vows and began to understand religious life which included community living, ministry and praying together especially the hours of Eucharistic Adoration during the night which was a hallmark of our congregation.
When the community asked me to go to Chile, I had to leave my first grade class in Russia, Ohio and began ministry in Chile. By this time, I understood that I was in mission wherever I was and with whomever I was. In Chile, I continued teaching for several years before beginning pastoral work, which was like teaching in a different way. After 11 years in Chile, I continued my ministry in the United States with the Spanish-speaking community. First, I was on the Arizona border in the towns of Somerton and San Luis as the Director of Religious Education and then became the first resident Pastoral Minister in the border town of San Luis.
When the Diocese found a priest for the mission, I went to San Diego to Our Lady of the
Sacred Heart parish to be the coordinator for the Spanish-speaking community. After San Diego, I was in the San Bernardino Diocese as a Pastoral Coordinator for three different parishes composed of many languages and cultures. What a blessing diversity is, seeing a little of God’s greatness. From one ministry to another the richness and unique experiences gave me insights and a broader perspective for the next ministry to which I was called. I also discovered that I was a teacher at all times by the way I lived my life, by sharing Scripture or by accompanying someone on their life’s journey. And so mission continues ….
Hope that helps!