Yesterday was Catechetical Sunday, a day to remember and appreciate those people who dedicate their lives to improving our understanding of the Faith!
So many people have been influential in my faith life. These people have come in many forms: in high school youth group, people from the many retreats I've been to, priests, sisters, parish members, other bloggers, or random people I've met in life. I want to reflect on the person who has made the biggest impact on me, the woman I call my hero, and the reason that I developed a bigger interest in my faith: Margaret Boesen.
My parents were "hippies" as I like to call them. My dad was raised Catholic and my mom was some branch of Evangelical Christian. In college (60's and 70's) they both let their faith fall by the wayside. Eventually they met each other in a bar in Omaha, NE and dated 3 years. My dad's work took them to Des Moines, Iowa but when my dad's job was going to transfer him to Minneapolis, MN, my mom put her foot down and they decided to get married. During the week of parent teacher conferences, they looked up a minister in the phone book, called their immediate family, and got married in their living room. That summer after school was out, they went camping in Yellowstone for their honeymoon.
Two years later, I was born but it wasn't until I was 6 years old that they decided that it would be important to raise their children as Christians. So my mom became Catholic and my sister and I were baptized. My parents, of course, have had a bigger impact in my faith life than Margaret, but she really challenged me to go deeper in my faith. My parents, from the time I was 6 years old, have taken their faith seriously and have encouraged my sister and I to do the same.
I always knew that being Catholic was very important. I took Sunday school and religious education very seriously, but kept it separate from the rest of my life. After 8th grade confirmation my dad gave me the ultimatum to go to the Catholic high school or join youth group. I figured that once a week with people I didn't know was better than five days a week, so I chose to join youth group.
After a few months in youth group, a new youth minister took over. At first I didn't think very highly of her. She took us on a mission trip to El Centro Del Muchacho Trabajador in Quito, Ecuador. I was 14 years old, and there were a lot of cute boys there from Colorado. Of course, all I wanted to do was chase them around. They liked to go to the bars, but (imagine this), Margaret didn't think too keenly on that, so she said I shouldn't go. After that I complained (loudly) about Margaret, making fun of her and being extremely disrespectful with one of the girls in our youth group. Unfortunately, Margaret overheard everything I said. She had been taking a nap on the top bunk in the room we were in. She just prayed for me the whole time and God told her not to confront me about it at that time. (She told me about the incident right before I graduated from high school as a testimony to how God can change people's hearts.)
Two months later, Margaret took our youth group to a retreat in Steubenville, Ohio. There my life was completely changed as I encountered the love of God in a powerful way. Margaret was there for me, prayed with me, and listened as I sorted everything out in my life. From that summer on, Margaret was my hero, and I wanted to be just like her as an adult.
She was there for me all through high school. So many of the decisions I made were influenced by her and her prayers. After high school I traveled around the country with the National Evangelization Teams "challenging young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church." I heard about NET because Margaret had given me a promotional video about it. After that, I started nursing school after an inspiration in prayer to be more like Mother Teresa. I also helped Margaret with youth group at St. Augustin's.
I had many friends from high school retreats, but the ones who lived in Des Moines had all gone to college by the time I returned from NET. Through helping with Margaret's youth group, however, I met and became an intimate part of the group of friends I now have. They had all gone to the summer conferences at Steubenville as well, but we had been on different buses (6 buses from Iowa went every year), so I hadn't gotten to know them very well.
Christina was helping another youth minister in Des Moines, so we met at a retreat one day and began to be friends. She invited me to join her girl's Bible study and soon I was an active member of the group. Ryan was one of the people on the other Steubenville buses and in Christina's group of friends as well.
In 2005, Margaret married Charles Statsny and moved to South Dakota. I am so happy for her. She always wanted to be married and have children, but had not found the right man. In January of 2007 she and Charles had a baby, Mary Elizabeth.
God has been so good to me, and I am so grateful to Margaret for saying yes to God in His call for her to be a youth minister. My life is completely different for having met her and I cannot express how happy I am to have had her as my catechetical influence.
God calls people to this ministry everyday and uses them in profound ways. Take the time today to thank those people who have been influential in your faith life. Their lives are not easy and your gratitude will mean so much to them.
Jesus, thank you for Margaret. I pray that you will bless her abundantly for her yes to you. Bless her family as well, may they continue to be an example of Your love to those around them.