Wednesday, February 11, 2015


In her second year with DVUSA, Mary Paige Bausch (also known as MP) is serving at Dominican University in River Forest, IL. She is a University Minister and coordinates a new faith-based service-learning internship for Latino and Latina students called Ministry en lo Cotidiano (Ministry in the Daily Life). She lives in community with two Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa and two other volunteers at House of Connections in Chicago.

“To be a human being is to be in relationship with others…
and to be in relationship with others is to be acompañado (a companion).”
Robert S. Goizueta, Caminemos con Jesus

All week, my office in the University Ministry Center has been bombarded with bright-eyed college students excited about being back at school starting the spring semester. Recently, I was reflecting on the busyness with my supervisor.

 MP (center) with University Ministry Staff at Dominican University

“I love that they’re back; they give my work meaning and bring life to my day! But it’s so hard to get my work done when they all pop into my office wanting to talk!”
He responded wisely with, “The ministry is the interruption.”

The ministry is the interruption.

I graduated college a couple years ago expecting to change the world. The lives of those I encounter will be changed forever by my perky personality and real wisdom. I will do the work of saints and martyrs and lay foundations for future lives. I will achieve perfection and completeness.

How naïve I was. Heck, I’m still a little naïve.

In my short time out of college, I have yet to do the work of saints and martyrs or achieve perfection and completeness. However, this realization is a good wakeup call and challenges me every day in my ministry. In fact, I’m slowly realizing that the ministry is not all about changing the world or laying huge foundations for years to come. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about completeness.

Rather, the ministry is about the interruption. It’s about that student knocking on my office door, “MP, do you have a minute?” It’s about me allowing myself to be interrupted; to pause what I’m doing, and say, “Yes, I’ve even got two minutes! Have a seat.” That’s the ministry and that’s acompañamiento, accompaniment.

MP (far left) on Alternative Break Immersion with DU Students to 
New Hope Catholic Worker Farm near Dubuque, Iowa, in October 2014

In one theological reflection session I lead with my students last semester, the theme was acompañamiento. We read an excerpt out of Roberto S. Goizueta’s book, Caminemos con Jesus. He writes extensively on the idea of accompaniment in Latino/Hispanic theology and reflects on his own experience. The students, however, had so many examples of accompaniment that their stories became the text we studied and reflected on. When I asked what they thought of when hearing and experiencing acompañamiento, the responses were on point…

Moments together.
Learning together.
Hugs and kisses.
Being there in the silence.
Walking together.
Being in the same situation.
Friends just being there.
Walking with in a new situation.
Being, not doing.
Hands on my shoulders.

Accompaniment is saying yes to the present and to presence. It’s being with another person, walking with another person, and sometimes just sitting in silence with one another.

(Left to right) Sister Pat Farrell, MP Bausch, and two Dominican University Ministry leaders 
at the Nuns on the Bus: “We the People, We the Voters” rally in September 2014

The prayer below by Bishop Ken Untener brings me back the reality of my ministry—the reality that walking with someone on their journey can be messy. Healing and wholeness may not be instantaneous and probably won’t bring perfection.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
          an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw[1]

Acompañamiento, or accompaniment, is the heart of my ministry—to be in relationship with others, to be a companion on a journey. Each day I’m reminded as I walk into the University Ministry center, ready to accomplish all the tasks on my to-do list, and then I hear a knock on my door, “MP, do you have a minute?”


[1] This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

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