Project Miriam

Many of the talks we’ve been hearing this semester in both our Formation Program and our Women’s Nights have focused around what it means to be a woman of God and how our femininity plays into that. This has naturally brought up some discussions in our community
about vocation, especially for some of our juniors and seniors. Through God’s perfect timing, the Vocations Office in the Austin Diocese offered two day long retreats, one for the men and one for the women, to help people understand what it really means to be called to religious life.

I went to the retreat for the women, Project Miriam, with Courtney and a few of the women in our Households. We spent the afternoon meeting the various sisters who were there and heard a bit about their communities and way of life. There were about ten different communities represented, and it was beautiful to hear how the Lord had brought them to their vocation to Religious life.

We all went to mass together, spent time in adoration, and heard about Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation. Before she ever gave her fiat — her yes — Mary gave her ecce — her being. She is
the handmaid of the Lord, and gave herself to Him in her very being before she was ever asked to be His mother at the Annunciation. I was struck by that during adoration and it occurred to me that I want to become the kind of woman who doesn’t just say “Lord, what will you ask from me? Because I’m not sure I’m up to the task…” but rather “Lord, when will you ask me, because I’ve already said yes!”

It was incredible to be able to spend time with the sisters and the women from our Households. I went to brunch with the women the next morning and it was neat to hear how the experience had been for each of them. Most of us are unsure at this point where the Lord is calling us when it comes to vocation, but I saw how He’s been opening their hearts to the possibility of Religious life. Spending time with the sisters had helped many of them break down fears and misconceptions about life as a sister.

A few of us are continuing the openness the Lord has begun by going on a weekend-long retreat for discernment. I pray this will bring peace and clarity for each of us, and an increased
trust in the One who desires to satisfy us.

The School of the New Evangelization

Once our Mission Team Training ended, we moved all of our belongings over to the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota for a week-long conference called the School of the New Evangelization (SNE). This conference pulled together speakers and students from all over the U.S. SNE is built around helping us learn and practice the skills we need this year to be rooted in prayer and focused on reaching new students on campus.

This was my first time, and it was the largest SNE so far with over 400 college students in attendance. Many of the students came from schools with SPO chapters (such as The Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota, etc.) but quite a few came from schools which don’t have SPO staff yet.
28961071565_5db9491843_zEach day of the conference had morning prayer, daily mass, and personal prayer time to help us grow in our prayer life and prepare us for the school year. We spent the majority of the day in various talks divided into three tracks: mission, community, and holiness.

I jumped around between many of the sessions, and often continued discussing the ideas with new friends during our meal times.

28309863683_b9189b7871_zI was thrilled to finally meet the students from Texas State University during SNE, and by the end of the week I was finally starting to remember all their names and faces. I spent a few of my free afternoons getting to know the women I’d be living with, and it was exciting to finally know a little bit of the community I would be jumping into in just a few short days.

It was an exhausting week coming right from a week of training, but I learned a lot, got to know my fellow missionaries and many of the students pretty well. I took full advantage of our free time to take some much needed naps, spend time with the students, and participate in the SPOlympics. We finished out the week with an unbelievable talent show, and parted ways to travel to our placements.

Adoration on one of the first nights of SNE
The first annual SPOlympics
SPOlympic athletes in action
Some of the incredible musicians from the Talent Show
All of the students and mission leaders from SNE