“God has a plan for you” is a phrase my mom has said to me multiple times over the course of my life. More often than not, I would shove these six little words off with an eye roll and a “uh huh, sure mom,” and go about my day. However, since moving to the southside of Chicago four months ago, I have finally learned that God does indeed have a plan for my life.
My journey to the AV’s was a bit more unique in that I had been teaching for the past two years. However, I always felt something was missing, I just didn’t know what it was. I stumbled upon the Augustinian Volunteers through a friend from high school, Danielle Callahan, who was an AV in San Diego last year. I applied in late March, not thinking much of it, and suddenly, less than two weeks later I was offered a position at St. Rita of Cascia High School. Hearing that I would be working at St. Rita was the first of a few instances in which I now truly believe that God was calling me to Chicago. You see, Rita is a very important saint in my family.
In November of 2014, my brother got married to my sister-in-law at the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia in Philadelphia. The reason they chose this church to be married in, besides its obvious beauty, was because my sister-in-law’s late mother was named, you guessed it, Rita, and she wanted to honor her mom during the wedding ceremony.
At the time, I thought it was nothing more than a strange coincidence. However, in the first week of August, I finally began to see God’s plan unfolding in front of me. A few weeks before I was set to leave for Chicago, I was driving down the shore with a good friend of mine. As we were driving down, we were talking about my upcoming move and I was confiding in him how I was beginning to have second thoughts about the move. I knew deep down in my heart of hearts that this was the right move for me, but I was simply scared of what the unpredictable future held. As we were talking I glanced over at a car next to me and was blown away at what I saw. The license plate of the car next to me read: ST RITA. Those of you reading this right now might not believe that this actually happened, and in fact, part of me still finds it hard to believe (there is photographic evidence however).
From the moment I began my service at St. Rita I knew that I am where I am meant to be. Each day I am greeted with teachers and staff members who truly care about me and my experience in Chicago so far, offering me support, guidance, or just a smile and a “how are you?” One of my favorite things about St. Rita is the beautiful shrine chapel that is attached to the school (the word chapel is used loosely, as it is more like a cathedral), which I am lucky enough to be able to spend a few minutes in at least two or three times a week. However, my favorite thing about working at St. Rita is being able to interact with, teach, and mentor some of the most respectful and intelligent young men I have ever met. It is in my interactions with the students where I truly see God. In guiding them through their faith journey, they are, without realizing it, helping me in my own faith journey, and I find that incredibly beautiful.
My time in Chicago hasn’t been perfect. For the greater part of the first two months I was very homesick and unsure of my place here. It was during this time, someone very close to me told me, “God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but he does promise us a meaningful one.” So far, my time at St. Rita of Cascia has been very meaningful, and I look forward to what the second half of my experience in Chicago has in store for me.
Chicago, IL 2015-2016