“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
Mother Teresa is a favorite saint for many young Catholics, myself included. She moved mountains with her quiet, steady, and loving presence. She answered a call that was extremely difficult, trusting in God even when she falt utterly abandoned and alone. And this great saint, a leader of service and love, a spiritual giant among mankind, started simple.
I had Mother Teresa and her life of service in mind when I sat on the small beach of a pond at Zion Retreat Center this past spring, about 45 minutes from Steubenville. I was on Daughter’s of Zion household retreat, and the weather was warm and sunny. Up and over the hill behind me, I could hear the voices of the other household sisters. While I was trying to enjoy being alone, doubting thoughts kept nagging me.
A few weeks prior, I had been selected as one of the household coordinators for the following school year. I was a job I both looked forward to and feared. Other women had done the job before me, and they had set the bar so high I thought I could never reach it. Also, the current sisters were already firmly striving toward heaven, and I didn’t know what I would be able to contribute. The list of insecurities grew and I didn’t want to have to face any other them.
But then I was joined by two sisters, one who had just joined and another who had joined the previous semester while I was studying abroad in Gaming, Austria. We started talking (because that’s what you do in household), and I was asked what I thought about being coordinator.
I hesitated in answering. There’s always a part of me that doesn’t want to share personal things, to keep a front, and say, “I’m fine.” But I told them that I was a little apprehensive about it.
Immediately, they launched into affirmations, telling me that I was going to be a great coordinator, and listing the reasons why they thought so. They mentioned things they saw in me that I didn’t even see in myself. Humbled under the barrage affirmations, I realized that there wasn’t much I could bring to household that I already had. I don’t (usually) have deep spiritual or philosophical insights, I shy away from establishing intimate relationships with most people, and it seems I make more mistakes than I should. But I knew of Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa didn’t have a certificate that said “Healing Missionary” or “Catholic Leader.” All she had was a call and the courage to answer. Every day was approached one step at a time, her trusting hand holding tight to God’s. Mother Teresa hadn’t been taught how to serve. Service taught her.
If I am going to be a successful coordinator, it will not be seen in whether I get the Coordinator of the Year Award, or if my household is always at cap, or even if each and everyone woman in Daughters of Zion tells me I did a good job. For me, success will be marked with whether or not I grow, whether or not I completely take advantage of the opportunity to lead a beautifully spiritual group of girls.
Like Mother Teresa, I have a call, and while I might not think it is as difficult as hers was, I can’t approach it with any less love and faith than she did. “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle,” Mother said. “I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”
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.