The summer before heading to Alabama, I continued to be actively involved with the youth group, slowly becoming more comfortable in that role. We went to a big conference that summer in Atlanta. There were various talks throughout the weekend but then our group broke up into smaller groups for discussion. Leading and facilitating these discussions always made me nervous.
I’ve already established that I lived in my head for many months between being laid off from my job and moving to Alabama. While a lot of my journal entries were chasing after total understanding, obsessing over things that I couldn’t change on my own and just worrying about all sorts of things, there were also some moments of epiphany. Moments of clarity. These happened especially when I took time to slow down and just be quiet. Be still. Not chasing after things or trying to check off all the items on my to-do list. And I thought I’d share a few of those.
Being with the youth group was awesome and challenging. I gave a few talks and eventually lead some small group discussions. The talks were scary and I was certainly nervous the whole time, but I got up there and I did it. A few people made a pointed effort to thank me for sharing, no matter how raw the delivery was.
What I enjoyed most was being part of this community, having the opportunity to be involved in some way. I was learning more about my faith, and seeing it in action meant everything. I really reveled in the teens’ enthusiasm.
As I mentioned before, this newspaper where I worked had four sales teams: two teams splitting the geographic area of the paper’s local market; new business; national. When I came to interview at the paper, I was initially interviewed by the manager of the national team, but for some reason she decided not to go with me. Then I met with the “new business” manager and somehow got that job. So, I was a bit intimidated to interact with the assistant for the national team, thinking she must be a major office whiz.
I remember an opportunity I had to work a little bit with that assistant. We were trained together on how to manipulate the database information to generate various reports for our respective teams. It surprised me that the other assistant seemed to have no idea how databases worked. She wasn’t computer savvy at all, but she dressed more corporate. And I couldn’t help but think that was a major reason why she had gotten that position. It’s all about appearances, right?
By early September 2007, I had finished my year of volunteering in Los Angeles. I still wasn’t sure what to pursue as my next step. I applied to various jobs but nothing panned out.
Part of my growth while in California was being exposed to the world of journalism. I realized I enjoyed that kind of writing, but it was challenging to approach strangers and ask for their feedback. I was a small fish in a big pond; I felt like I was thrashing around trying to make things work. But there was some excitement nonetheless, a bit of a thrill with figuring out how to piece many little parts together into a finished story, even if the interviewing aspect was nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. (If you missed them, you can read the pieces I wrote for my San Francisco assignment and the personal article on my brother becoming a priest.)
A few weeks before Easter 2007, I was using the photocopier at the newspaper and the editor came by to check his mailbox. We talked for a few minutes, and he again thanked me for a nice job with my piece for the Walk for Life.
He asked if I had plans to visit my family for Easter. Sadly, I told him no. This would be the second year in a row that I wasn’t able to spend this special time with my family. As a senior in college, I had participated on a retreat during Holy Week in Rhode Island.
I forget how the topic of conversation turned to my family in this way, but the editor acknowledged that my brother would be ordained a priest that summer. And he asked if I was interested in writing a piece about that for an upcoming special section on religious vocations, to write about what it’s like, this idea of having a priest in the family.
Note: This is part three of a three-part description of my first journalism assignment. You can read part one here, where I show how God answered my prayer to guide me in the right direction. You can read part two here, describing how God lead me to the people I needed to speak with.
Help me know what to do
There was a Mass bright and early Saturday morning. I was running on fumes at that point, just a few hours of sleep, but I was excited about what the day would bring. I still felt convinced I needed to speak to more people, so as people were leaving I tried to pick out approachable people and ask why they were involved in advocating for life.
Note: This is part two of a three-part description of my first journalism assignment, covering the Walk for Life in San Francisco. You can read part one here, where I show how God answered my prayer to guide me in the right direction.
Lead me to the people I need to speak with
Instead of staying at a hotel, I was able to lodge with other members of Sister Paula’s religious community. Sister Anne showed me to my room for the night where I unloaded my stuff. Friday night’s agenda meant attending an interfaith prayer service followed by a trip to a different church offering all-night adoration. My goal was to talk to a few participants. Since the rally and Walk for Life weren’t until Saturday morning, I left behind my interview notes and questions for those speakers. No sense in bringing everything with me.
This is the detailed version of one of the most incredible, pivotal moments of my life. An experience where I can truly see God working through me rather than it being on my own accord. I’ve shared pieces of it to people in talks and different ways, but this includes everything. It’s a long write-up, so I’ve broken it up into three parts. I’ll share part two tomorrow and part three on Friday.
By January 2007, I had been volunteering with The Tidings for about 3 full months. I learned about the third annual Walk for Life, a similar event to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., but this would be in San Francisco. I asked the publisher of the paper if the San Francisco event is something they planned to cover. I told him I was interested in being part of the experience. Maybe to help out in some way.
At the beginning of the notebook where I found the details of the sensory walk, I saw that I purposefully sought out to renew my journaling efforts as a way of learning more about myself. It was an effort for record, accountability and self-discovery. I had gotten away from this practice and my creative writing especially during my senior year of college because of my student teaching responsibilities.