Very recently we were in Chicago, Illinois, and we went to dinner with the priest of the parish. The priest made it very clear that he could never travel and stay in other people’s homes and laughed at the mere thought. This is a main aspect of our life on the road – staying with host families. It made me think of all the host families we have stayed with, and I realized that host homes are actually one of my favorite parts of our ministry.
The craziness of travel can be quite strenuous, but being able to arrive at a nice home at the end of the day, where there is a sweet family waiting to welcome us, has been such a blessing. When they open their home to us, they also open up their hearts. We get to know these people and their stories. I find myself encountering God in each and every one of them. There was one host family we stayed at where the dad was a convert to the faith. Naturally we wanted to know what inspired him to become Catholic. He told us the story of how he grew up atheist, but when he found out his wife was pregnant with their first child, he started to research Christianity. The more he found, the more it made sense. When his daughter was finally born, the gift of her life solidified his decision. He was welcomed into the church shortly after that. This is one of the many beautiful stories we get to hear while spending time with our host families.
While host families are absolutely a highlight of our ministry, the actual ministry with the youth is equally as special. We have a unique opportunity to walk into their lives for just a day. In this short amount of time we are able to connect with them and witness the faith alive in the young people of the universal church. It’s amazing to see the change in their attitudes over the course of the day. There was one retreat we did a couple months ago where two of the girls told me that they didn’t really believe in God. I told them to just remain open. After our hour of prayer ministry they came up to me in tears saying that they believed, and their lives would never be the same. Their joy was so contagious! I was truly inspired by this revelation of glory.
These two aspects of ministry are essential. Not only for the families and youth, but for us. It is an opportunity to see the face of God in the lives of ordinary people. We are really fortunate to be in this position with this perspective. Through this ministry we witness Christ, but more importantly, we meet Christ.
God bless you all!