AS Ann Anosike, Arlington, Va.
As a former Franciscan Community Volunteer, upon leaving Welcoming House, I was filled with great anxiety and even greater excitement about what was to come. I knew the ease with which I shared in the Franciscan spirituality from living with the sisters for the 10.5 months prior was not going to be there anymore. I was nervous that the fire that had been ignited during my year of service with the Franciscan Community Volunteers could eventually fizz out as the pressures of everyday life in a major city (Washington, D.C.) increased.
At Welcoming House, prayer life came easily with the sisters, and with our weekly Monday night community prayers and Thursday night Sharing from the Heart with my co-volunteers. I was at peace there—I felt free and I was very happy. I had so many questions as I was leaving this home that felt very safe and very right. What if I cannot carry the Franciscan charisms forward? What if I am too weak to live generously on my own? Worst of all, what if I forget how it feels to know without question that God loves me and that he is mindful of me? So many what ifs.
Sisters Karen, Rose Mae and Michelle and Pat, the FCV program director, did everything possible to make the transition from Welcoming House smooth. After several conversations, I began to ask, “What if I can do this?” I decided before I left that the first and most important thing for me to do was to find a community and get plugged in immediately. And that is exactly what I did. My first Sunday in Washington, DC, was successful. The church my friend took me to was a vibrant Gospel Catholic Church. I immediately felt at home and began to envision a wholesome life in DC. Three weeks later, I found myself at the Young Adult Retreat where I made great connections. A month later, I was joining the young adult leadership team. Next thing I knew, I was serving my new community and had found my new safe haven.
At work, life was becoming increasingly challenging. Work was intense and the long hours with short lunch breaks were grueling. I was feeling drained and constantly anxious about performing well. But I was still passionate about the mission of Search for Common Ground: to recognize differences and act on commonalities. To stay motivated, I tried to choose to operate from a place of gratitude for my work. I was and am still grateful for my coworkers who work hard to make funding for our lofty mission possible.
One day, God showed me a great sign with one of my older coworkers. After some long hours of working together, we began to delve deeply into our personal lives. There, we discovered our mutual connection to the Franciscans. She loved Father Richard Rohr and would later take me to an event where he was speaking. She had taken a spiritual trip to Assisi and was taken by the Franciscans. In that moment and many moments to follow, both at work and in my personal life, I was continually getting messages from God of his mindfulness toward me and my life.
While work continues to be demanding, I recognize the gift that God has given me with this job. My coworker can say “I love you” and I can say “I love you too” without hesitation or consideration about professionalism in the workplace. And I am so grateful that God has placed me in an environment where hearing a colleague say those words to another colleague is not out of place.
Living the Franciscan spirituality for me means living openly and loving deeply. While there continues to be challenging moments in the everyday, I can honestly say that life with the Franciscan Sisters set me up for success in this big city. I am grateful to you all for your continued prayers and love. I feel all of it.