Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blessings in Salt Lake

by Paul Wizniuk

To be a Dominican Volunteer for a year ministering as an Assistant Campus Minister at the Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, how I have made my way through and enjoyed it!
Br. Gabriel, Fr. Peter, and Paul

My time in this capacity has consisted of two basic elements: living out a Dominican lifestyle and facilitating spiritual growth and greater community amongst the students and the parish. My days have been framed by the Liturgy of the Hours. I thank the Lord for the morning and pleasant rest, appreciate a mid-day’s moment of rest and refocus, and ask for blessings as I end my day. This prayer ritual, through the cycle I just described and the psalmist’s beautiful laments and praises has brought about conversion in my heart to deeper faith and reliance on God. Daily reception of Christ’s body and blood as part of my ministry day has been a large part of that conversion too.

Learning to live in intentional community has been quite humbling and inspiring. Among the lessons learned, obedience is surely the greatest, as well as accountability to more than just myself, but to those I live with whom I rely on and rely on me; especially for edible dinners, which I attempted to provide each Thursday. It is an interesting process of learning to live with and love individual quirks; some of mine I felt the need to qualify with a statement like, “You have to remember, I’m an artist.” (However, I’m not sure it clarify anything . . .)

My more specific ministerial duties that I stated above as “facilitating spiritual growth and greater community amongst the students and parish: have been rewarding and challenging. Trying to work to my strengths, I have focused on utilizing my people skills and sharing my passions in life. Most notably, in my opinion, are my efforts to provide tea time, building community and an open environment in the student lounge at the Center, as well as coordinating an Alternative Spring Break trip to Guatemala. I have been involved in many other projects and groups and roles in my ministry, but those two stand out for me. Although my desire to have tea time at a regular time and on a regular basis functioned more so as me serving tea throughout the day to students that came in and out (my most regular tea drinking companion being Stephanie, the Secretary), I believe the success of this venture was mostly in the power of the idea. Many people expressed to me how they thought this was a great idea and I think it opened people’s minds to the idea even if they didn’t come participate. I believe it helped people realize that is another world out there that they sometimes forget about, and in it there are some that still take a moment in the day to sit, enjoy a favorite beverage, reflect on the day and enjoy good conversation with friends.
Paul and members of the Newman Center

Coordinating the ASB trip to Guatemala was a wonderful experience for me because it offered me the opportunity to share some of my talents in areas I am really passionate about, namely serving others, specifically serving others in Latin America, speaking Spanish, and helping others experience the beauty of the people and culture of Latin America. I was able to use my passion for this kind of trip to get people excited about it and use my experiences to prepare them. Along with learning how to make this all go smoothly I had some unexpected lessons that Fr. Carl, the Pastor, described as “learning the ways of high finance,” or more specifically people reneging on their payments. Overall, the most outstanding lesson I believe was the experience of spearheading the trip and leading the groups through it; especially holding everyone together to the common vision and keeping the group united.

To be a part of the Newman Center community, which is described often (for good reason) as very special, and to participate in God's love with them was a profound experience as we worked to build the kingdom of God and make it present everywhere we are.  I am thankful to everyone there for playing the important role they did as a part of my experience, simply by being themselves and belonging to the community.  I move forward from this year of service with them enriched and more devote to Jesus Christ and for that I can't thank them enough.

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