“Miss Marie, I was telling my friend on my baseball team about Purgatory like we learned last week in CCD and he told me I was making it all up. Can you help me answer his questions?”
Elijah, one of my 3rd grade CCD kiddos, ran up to me yesterday at the beginning of class and was so excited to start answering his friend’s questions about the Catholic faith. With an hour and fifteen minutes of catechism a week, this nine year old was spreading the faith. The same boy who five minutes later asked me how to spell the word “Catholic” and then proceeded to trip on his shoelace and spill his juice box on a clean carpet was an authentic missionary.
I want to have a heart for mission like him.
Someday, I want to travel the world. Someday, I want to be a missionary. I want to convert souls. I want to go to extremes. I want to take bucket showers and drink coconut water. I want serve the homeless. I want to love the unloved. One day, I want to serve in a visible way. Eventually, I want to be like my sister and some of my best friends who have answered their vocations to the missions. I want to be radical… Someday.
But why can’t someday be today? Why am I waiting? Why do we wait until we have graduated? Why do we wait until mission work looks “fun and adventurous”? Why do we wait until we “know enough”? Why do we postpone God’s plan? I’ve been so focused on my desire to serve in crazy and radical ways… that I have forgotten to simply serve the people I see every day. The people who surround me on campus daily have a physical home, will eat dinner tonight, and wear designer jeans, but their hearts might be homeless. The people who surround me might look the part, but are spiritually wounded. Who am I to say that my classmates don’t deserve authentic joy, genuine friendship, and honest truth… everything that a “missionary” can offer?
I want to be a missionary. And I choose to start now.
Someday I hope that God calls me to foreign lands or a liberal campus or a radical vocation of loving the homeless. But today He is calling me to loving those who sit next to me in the lecture hall. To love those who wait with me at the bus stop. To love my roommates and my best friends. To love the rowdy 3rd graders who run into my classroom. To love those who walk into the Newman Center searching for a true home.
And that… that is just as radical.
“Anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.” – Pope Francis
Marie Foley is currently a student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pursuing a degree in secondary education for mathematics. She enjoys running marathons, drinking coffee and driving minivans.