Thursday, March 09, 2017

a fuller picture

I first came to SMA in 1993 with the intention of returning to Africa, where I had served as a Peace Corps volunteer.  This time I was going to Africa as a missionary, which would be giving a different motivation to my presence, freeing me in some ways, and focusing me more in other ways.  I never planned to one day end up in Rome, working in “Administration” for the Generalate.  

Every 6 years the SMA Fathers have a General Assembly (GA) when they elect the General Council of SMA (the 4 leaders of the Society) and make decisions about the direction and focus SMA will have for the following 6 years. In 2013, I was invited to attend the General Assembly in Rome to represent the lay missionaries.  SMA has lay groups in several countries – USA, Argentina, France, Italy, Holland, Benin, Nigeria, Ireland, Philippines and Spain – each with varying forms of attachment to the SMA fathers. 

One of the decisions made at the GA 2013 was for the fathers to make efforts to have lay missionaries involved at a variety of levels within the Society’s structure.  A few weeks after the meeting, I received a call from the newly elected General Superior, Fr. Fachtna O’Driscoll, asking me to come to Rome to be the Assistant General Secretary for the General Council for the next 3 years.  My initial thoughts were, “YES!! I want to live in Rome for three years!!”  But, realistically I knew I had no training in this area – I’m an occupational therapist with almost all of my experience having been working with people in Africa who have a range of disabilities.  I love working with people in the field, and if this turned out to be a bad fit, it could be a long three years for all involved.  For these reasons, I told Fachtna “no.”  He then suggested we try it for a year and see how it goes. 

Who knows why God takes us in different directions at different times, but it’s about trusting that we aren’t being taken where we shouldn’t be, and remembering that we won’t be alone wherever we end up.  Now, 3½ years later, I’m still here in Rome as one of the assistant secretaries to the General Council.  Last year I was asked to stay for the time remaining in the General Council’s current term, so until 2019.  

me renewing my agreement in November, with Fachtna (L) and Antonio (Vice-Superior)

I still know my passion is working one-on-one with people, in the field.  Yet, it’s eye-opening to see this side of the picture – to get a fuller view of the entire process, to see the decision-making going on and the level of administration, of which I’m now a part, that is needed so that things can continue in the field – for example what I did over the years and what Joe is doing now, as well as what other lay missionaries and priests have done and are currently doing.  I’ve been very fortunate to still have close contact with Joe, and even to have seen him in the field a couple of times since I’ve been here.  When I see him and his passion and dedication to the people he is working with and for, I am motivated even more strongly to continue what I am doing.  It’s like that Bible passage, where we are many parts, all of us needed to make the whole possible.  Without the Administration, what all of the “Joes” are doing would not be possible.  Without all of the “Joes”, there would be no administration.    

the meal after my renewal, with Fachtna and a couple of others in the house


At 1:36 AM, Blogger MJ said...

Your being in Rome and seeing another side of things has enabled you to come full circle now and see things that you never got to see just being in the field. You mention the Bible passage and it reminds me of a song we sing in church which is quite similar "We are many parts, We are all one body. and the gifts we have, we are given to share". With groups like SMA having the dedicated people this is being done and will continue to be done for a long time.

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steeeeeeve!! So good to get your updates - Christine

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Ineke Bosman said...

You have a beard now. Or did you always have a beard? I dont see your eyes in the pictures. You look well and sound well. Like to see you again.

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Loretta said...

You are right - all parts of the body are needed. Being in an HQ position for a lot of years now; know I frustrate the field offices, know I may be using my gifts in the best ways where I am, etc...

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