- “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38The theme of World Youth Day, above, reminds us of two connected and important points. God is leading us, and we are called to service. Mary’s response to Gabriel, as a young woman, is to be our response as well.On pilgrimage, as we are all called to this week, whether celebrating WYD in Panama or in Washington, DC (or wherever you are — follow along digitally!), God is doing the leading. God has adventures in store for us that we cannot imagine. But often those adventures and blessings require a change of heart, an openness to being inspired by awe. Sometimes churches bring us that awe, as they were built for that reason. But often, I find that in our indoor, always-connected world nature provokes that awe more viscerally.Pilgrimage at its core is about walking to holy places. So already on our journey we have walked to churches and we have prayed in holy places. But we also have entered into the holiness of nature. And been reminded of our call to service as a result. As Bon Secours we “commit ourselves to defend and care for all of creation; and to cry out with others against injustice and all that diminishes life on Earth.” Visiting the rainforest and learning about the endangered species that live there is an incredible reminder of all of the service God’s creation is calling out for today. May you let God do the leading and may you find a way to serve.God bless!Nick
Happy New Year, friend!
I love maps and I love calendars because they show you where you are and where you are going. I want to share some of where we are going with Bon Secours Young Adults this year. There are the fun events like World Youth Day in Panama, and Panama in the Capital in Washington DC, on January 26. The two annual Farm Retreat Weekends, in February (15-18) and in August (2-4). The Bon Secours Family Reunion on July 13. The Lenten Retreat in April and a special Catholic Imagination Retreat in London in June.
But there are also so many annual traditions to look forward to and people in our lives to celebrate: Valentine’s Day, Opening Day for Major League Baseball, NCAA March Madness, DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival, birthday parties, weddings, anniversary’s, Earth Day, the Preakness Stakes, Memorial Day cookouts and pool openings, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Fireworks on the 4th of July, Back to School shopping, college football season, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
Then it struck me. For all of that, as a community centered in our relationship with Jesus we also have another year, another chance, another graced time to celebrate the mysteries at the heart of who we are as Bon Secours: Sisters of Bon Secours Foundation Day on Jan. 24th, Ash Wednesday on March 6, the season of Lent, Holy Week with Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday, Easter on April 21, the season of Easter, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost on June 9, the Assumption of Mary on August 15, the rhythm of growth in Ordinary Time, All Saints on November 1, and the Advent Season in December.
What an incredible year we have in front of us. Thanks be to God, now and forever.
We’re in the 3rd week of Advent, Christmas Eve is a week away, and vacation (at least a few days of it) for many of us is just around the corner. I am sure all of you finished your shopping, wrapping, and sending weeks ago, and are just relaxing each night by the fire in perfectly decorated and clean homes just like in the Hallmark movies we all love. Or maybe not; either way, we hope that you will be able to put all of that aside for at least a few moments over the next few weeks to enter fully into the Christmas event — of God’s ultimate act of compassion, in becoming human.
Knowing you, that’s not a big ask — you are in a league of champions when it comes to prayer. But because you know the meaning of Christmas so well, here is the bigger ask — please share what it means to you that Jesus was born with someone else over the next couple of weeks. We have to share the story. We have to share why it touches our hearts. So please keep baking tons of cookies, give lots of gifts, wear ugly sweaters, blast Christmas music around the house and in the car, go to the parties, and of course, make the time for church services with your loved ones. But also, please have a quiet conversation with someone, speaking from your soul, about the meaning of Emmanuel, God-With-Us. It might just be the best way to be good help.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
This past week Bon Secours Young Adults was well-represented at the National Leadership Forum on Ministry with Young Adults in Tampa, Florida. Sr. Pat Dowling, CBS, program coordinator Lauren DeSmit, board member Sarah Jarzembowski, Rudy Dehaney, Katie Erskine, and more were all in attendance and soaking up the networking and learning opportunities on behalf of our community. I was helping to organize the Forum and was asked to be a part of a couple of panels in my role with the National Advisory Team. It was a tremendous honor, of course, to be able to help advance this field of ministry in broad ways, but I want to reflect for a moment on how this applies to you, specifically, as a Bon Secours Young Adult or as someone who supports this ministry.
As part of the Forum a number of “White Papers” were collected and published and presented to the participants as best practices, or thought pieces. One paper in particular made a tremendous impact in reinforcing a thought that had been brewing in various ways for me for a while now. “Moving from Event-Centered Ministry to People-Centered Ministry” was presented by Sean Allen, of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend. If you have the time, I would encourage you to read it — and to let me know your thoughts about it.
But this is what I think it means for us as Bon Secours. Over the past 4 years we have built up this incredible community of young-adult people who are committed to being good help in the world. You are those people. And we have offered incredible events — retreats, service projects, small faith-sharing groups, happy hours, etc. But too often I know I have been guilty of thinking up the fun event first and then thinking about the person second. That needs to change — you, the person, needs to come first, the event, if there is an event at all, needs to come second (or third, or later). You can expect to hear much more about this in the weeks to come, but for now, please be on the lookout for another invitation to coffee (or your preferred beverage) from Lauren and I in the near future as we look to make sure Bon Secours Young Adults is a people-centered ministry and community, first and always.
Happy Advent everyone,
As we celebrated the 1st Sunday of Advent yesterday, I was continuing my thanksgiving praises. Many of you probably saw via Facebook that a friend of mine, Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh Basebang, a Claretian priest from Cameroon, had been kidnapped by armed gunmen, along with some companions, in the midst of the civil unrest in that country. It was with great relief that I learned that he and his companions have been released and are safe. However, the driver of their car, is still being held. In fact, I have been able to talk face to face with Fr. Jude via Whatsapp. He asks that we continue to pray for the release of the driver as the negotiations continue.
As we prepare, during this waiting season, for the coming, and second coming, of Christ, the Prince of Peace, at Christmas I urge everyone to do what they can to look up and out and all around. In Cameroon, Fr. Jude was kidnapped because there is a civil war going on, and the Church is caught in the middle. In Yemen, the Saudi Arabia-led war continues. In the Central African Republic, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Nicaragua, in Ukraine, in Syria the violence continues.
Bon Secours Young Adults are committed to being the good news of compassion, healing, and liberation. While most of that good help and good news is rightly focused on those closest to us, to the neighbors near us, we must not lose sight of the need for peace in so many places in our hurting world.
This past Thursday evening, Rachel Malinowski, a Bon Secours Young Adult, led the Bon Secours Young Adults Advisory Board and a number of our colleagues in ministry, through a reflection on “Gaudete et Exsultate.” This apostolic exhortation on The Universal Call to Holiness from Pope Francis was released just this past May, a short six months ago. Our reflection was deeply moving as we attempted to discern as a group and as individuals what the call to holiness means for us today.
What does is mean to be called to holiness today? It means something a little bit different for each of us, but in this Advent season I am convinced that part of that call is an acknowledgement of the violence in our world, and a resolve to seek peace — and to let that peace begin with each of us.