RaeAnn in Assisi

In the blink of an eye, the end of the year has approached. As I sit in my room, I attempt to reflect on my time in FrancisCorps. It dawns on me that this experience will be with me for many years to come.

How do I summarize my time in FrancisCorps? Many people have asked me, “Did you enjoy the year?” Instantly, I always reply with a strong “Yes.” This solid yes always flows with confidence. I cannot promise I will be able to find the words to explain how or why, but I will try.

Essentially, this year was great because of the people. From my community, to the volunteers, the North Side community, and the entire Franciscan community. Each and every individual God placed in my life this past year has truly been a blessing.

In my community, I did not acquire roommates. I have gained true, faith-filled friends. Friends that support me, and each other. Friends that make me laugh. Friends I can rely on. Friends that will be goofy or dance with me in the kitchen. Friends that inspire me.

At my service site, the volunteers I have met are the most loving, caring, and selfless individuals. They truly have the heart of a volunteer. Each day of service was a hundred times better when the cook would make me laugh. When one of the volunteers supported me on a hard day. When a volunteer’s response to give more of their time was always yes. When I saw those in the North Side community being loved and seen. When I felt loved and seen.

Coming into this program with a minimal understanding of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, I am happy to say the Franciscan root has been a favorite of mine this past year. I have had the pleasure to meet, spend time, and work alongside the friars and others in the Franciscan community. I have learned what it means to be a Franciscan. I have seen the love of a Franciscan. The life of St. Francis and St. Clare all melts down to love. These saints knew how to love. To love all that God has placed before them; people, situations, creation, life’s blessings and challenges.

What does this all have in common? Well, I have come to the conclusion that this leads to one thing. Relationship. We are made for relationship. Relationship with friends, family, strangers, the old, the young, the sick, the poor. Relationship with God the Father. This year has taught me that there is no doubt about that. Community does not make you weak. Living life together makes you strong. Vulnerability is not harmful. It challenges you and opens you to trust. Letting go of worldly desires does not make you crazy. It makes you rich. Truly, empty yourself for others, and for God. He will satisfy, and you will find peace.

From here, I am being called to always stay true and open to relationship. First and foremost, my relationship with God. To always put Him first, whatever I may do or wherever I go. As this chapter ends, I know a new one will begin. While my next steps are uncertain, I know keeping God at the center of my life will lead me to peace. Even in this uncertainty, I know and remind myself that ‘in Him we have boldness and confidence’ (Ephesians 3:12).

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