Here at Franciscan University, we have a unique system called “Households.” Commonly explained as a “Catholic fraternity,” these small groups of men or women are united by more than just a banner, color, or t-shirt. Households are families.
I was blessed to join Daughters of Zion household in the spring of my freshman year. At that point, the recently re-activated household was small and tight-knit. But for whatever reason–the covenant, the women, the witness of faith–the household exploded in size and quickly reached the cap of 40 members. This was both a blessing and a curse.
The size of the household promoted a great deal of diversity. The women were from all different backgrounds, majors, personalities, and places in their spiritual life. So it was therefore easy to find someone to learn from, someone to expose you to a new theological or philosophical insight. However, despite the abundance of potential friends, it was also easy to become lost.
Some people, such as myself, are naturally more withdrawn and enter new situations cautiously. Household was no different. I was suddenly in a group of my peers that were not only holding themselves accountable to a stronger faith life, but presenting a model that I didn’t think I could live up to. And for a while, I didn’t even try. I came to commitments, I went to dinner with them, but in the back of my mind, I thought I was just a pretender. I didn’t belong. But what I didn’t realize, is that was what households were for.
Just as in a family, a new member comes in completely blind. The people are new, the expectations are new, and they need to exert themselves if they are to grow. And just as in a loving family, so too my household accepted me and helped me take my first baby-steps in the way of life that Daughters of Zion strives to live out every day.
I’m still taking those baby-steps, and I probably will until I die, but I have grown enough to be entrusted with leading my household as a co-coordinator next year. This is at the same time both exciting and frightening. My fears that I will not be the leader Daughters of Zion needs wrestle with the joy of being able to serve in this new way. However, I know that by staying rooted in the Sacred of Heart of Jesus and trusting in the wonderful women around me in household, the next year will be fruitful and rich in grace.
Gruß Gott! My name is Marianna Schmiesing, and I am a junior English major at Franciscan. I was born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio, just a few blocks from the University, and it has always felt like home to me. This semester, I am living, working, eating, sleeping, praying, studying, and traveling all across Europe, making base camp in Gaming, Austria, at the Kartause Maria Thronus Iesu, the center of Franciscan’s study abroad program.
In addition to reading and writing, I am a member of Daughters of Zion household and love playing ultimate frisbee. After graduation, I plan to continue writing creatively, hopefully finishing a book or two (or ten), and winning the Pulitzer Prize.