Reflecting on the 1st Month

Hello everyone! The first month of my fellowship has really flown by. I feel much more settled in now to my living space, community life, and the different roles that I am working in for my time here as a fellow. I’d like to share with you some of the gifts and challenges from this first leg of my journey.

Community life is ever evolving. Jermaine, John, and I have come up with several variations by now of what we hope for our community life to look like. Right now, we have two community dinners each week and our Sunday evenings are dedicated to an alternating spirituality or social night. Each week, one of us gets to facilitate either a community social activity or a reflection and prayer experience. I find doing spirituality nights to be a true gift because each of us prays and worships in different ways. During spirituality nights we not only get to share this with each other but are also able to share a bit of what’s going on in our own spiritual lives and journeys with each other. Each of us are in such different places in our faith live, so we offer different perspectives, carry different “weights”, and need different things. It has been important for me to be mindful that, although community life calls us to live in the spirit of accompaniment, we each need to embrace the truth that we cannot be everything for one another in this year. 

My role as a youth minister at St. Ann’s Parish and as a campus minister for Rider University has proven to be quite difficult, as one would expect during a global pandemic. It is nearly impossible to plan traditional youth ministry experiences with the restrictions in place to ensure everyone’s safety. However, John and I have not stopped trying to come up with safe and innovative ways to meet the youth where they are in this time. What’s been made very clear over the past month is that young people really crave quality human interaction. We’ve been fortunate to have some outdoor programming with St. Ann’s youth this Fall and hope that it will lay the foundation for our virtual programming during the winter months.  When I feel discouraged, it has been important to remind myself that this work takes time, and that these are unprecedented circumstances. Intentionally, we’ve chosen Matthew 18:20 as the mantra for our Youth Ministry programming this year – “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them” – because at times, it may just only be two or three kids that show up. Regardless of the number, I continue to trust that God is actively working, and to remind myself that God has called me to “feed His sheep”, not count them.

I look forward to seeing what this next month holds in my community life, in the different projects I get to be a part of at CFJ, and in my personal faith journey. 

Linh Nguyen