Each year brings new surprises and adventures, and this summer, especially so. Earlier this year I had no idea what I was going to do this summer. I didn’t know where I was called to go. There came a point where I was praying in church one day and practically begged God to send me something I could do during the summer. Little did I know he already had something planned (of course!).
That same day I saw my friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. She had a deep devotion to St Mary Magdalene (the patron saint of Maggie’s Place and The Magdalene House), and she told me to apply to Maggie’s Place. I applied and was asked to be a Summer MissionCorps. I did not know what to expect but I knew God called me to it.
My time at Maggie’s Place started on May 11th. I became the Donations Coordinator at The Magdalene House and was the first Summer Corps to arrive. I would be in Phoenix for a total of 8 weeks. My summer of service ended on July 6th, the feast of St. Maria Goretti (my patron saint). As I reflect now on the past 8 weeks I am beginning to understand where this road has led me.
I would wake up each morning and await what was planned for that day. I would greet other moms, Corps, and babies. I would make breakfast, check emails, share in conversations, sort donations, and answer phones. These tasks, small as they are, were acts of love. Giving up my summer was an act of love. As Emeritus Pope Benedict the XVI said “love is to give, to offer what is ‘mine’ to the other.” That is exactly what I did when I watched a baby right after getting out of bed so a mom could run off to work, or by sorting donations outside in 106 degree weather; all of these acts of love were what I was called to this summer. Each day we were called to show these women the heart of God. We were not just giving them a place to sleep at night or food to eat. We were giving these women a chance to feel God’s presence in their life, to know that people care for them, and that they had dignity no matter their background.
Now, I can’t fully see the impact I had on these women I met this summer. Hopefully I helped to plant seeds that God will sew. But I can see the impact it had on me. I am so grateful I had the chance to live in such a beautiful community. My job was to make sure the women felt loved. Little did I know that love would be given to me in return. In my life, it has been difficult to find a community wherein I felt cared for and loved. Well, I found it this past summer. God gave me a community I always dreamed of, one you can’t fully explain until you experience yourself. I felt like I truly belonged there and I felt the authenticity of God’s beautiful love. I saw and shared in the struggles of those around me and I thanked God each day for each of the women he put in my path.
Each one of us longs for connection with another. Mother Teresa says that the greatest poverty is feeling unloved, unwanted, uncared for. When you find that authentic love, you wish to hold onto it. You will not want to leave it! I will cherish this summer for the rest of my life. I want everyone to know authentic love is real and when you step into one of the Maggie’s Place homes you will find it there.
By Anna Schmitz, a Summer Corps member