“What the heck am I doing?” This was the thought racing through my mind as I looked out the window of the plane landing in the Vienna airport. Only a few weeks prior, I had agreed to help with the LCI’s two week Intensive English Course in Gaming, Austria. It had originally felt a little crazy that I was embarking on such an endeavour, but it wasn’t until the plane was landing that I was seriously thinking “What the heck am I doing?” and “What can we possibly do in only two weeks?” But it wasn’t about what myself or the team were doing or capable of doing, it was about what God was doing.
Six seminarians and three priests attended the course. They were from Albania, Montenegro, and Ukraine. Because we only had two weeks, there was no easing into the schedule. Right away the days were full of communal prayer, English classes, meals, and excursions. We were blessed to have daily mass with Franciscan University, where our LCI students were able to practice their English by reading the readings, Gospel, and parts of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
It was so beautiful to see God at work, allowing all my worries about the shortness of time to disappear. Even within such a short period of time, the LCI students grew attached to the Kartause and Gaming, and really entered into community with the American university students. They went on hikes with them, worked on homework together, ate meals together, and even attended some American classes. Throughout the two weeks many intense competitions took place with the Franciscan students, but also within the LCI community, including pool, soccer, volleyball, and (possibly the most intense) UNO. The two weeks ended up feeling more like two months. Not because the days dragged on, but because each one was so rich and full.
LCI constantly reminds people of the universality of the Catholic faith and the love found in the Body of Christ; this time was no different. A major reason these seminarians and priests wanted to improve their English was to bring the sacraments to more people. We met as strangers with little in common, but our faith and desire to build God’s Kingdom connected us more profoundly than a common language ever could. Within fourteen days we had become a family and had to say our difficult goodbyes.
It is amazing to reflect on how God picked these particular seminarians and priests individually for this English course. How He picked such an amazing team for me to work with to make it run smoothly. Through this experience and these people, I relearned and was reminded of a lot. Most obviously, surrendering everything to God.
“What the heck am I doing?” I think we all feel this question many times in different ways in our lives, even if we know we are doing God’s Will. I like to think of God replying to this question with a gentle smile saying, “Just look. I am doing much. Let me take care of it.” I saw how God took complete care of the two-week English course and made it more than I could have imagined. It has inspired me again to evaluate how much I surrender to God and not to underestimate what He can accomplish through us. Hopefully it doesn’t take you traveling to another continent to realize the same!
By Grace Lawler, CMC alumna