Uniquely Created: Ministry and Motherhood

October 25, 2020

This month’s blog series is “Uniquely Created.” Last month we spoke about Gathering the graces. God graces us with all we need to be the person God uniquely created us to be. If we internalize and believe and trust that we are in fact uniquely created, uniquely gifted, uniquely formed, and uniquely called…we can more easily move into the person God created us to be.

I was not one of the “cool” kids in high school. I was (and still am) very introverted and have always loved to learn. At the end of my sophomore year, I was asked if I wanted to go to CLI (Catholic Leadership Institute) with the Diocese of Baton Rouge that summer. I didn’t know exactly what I was being asked to do, but I was excited my campus minister saw leadership potential in me. I remember going home begging my parents to go. They reluctantly said yes, and so, on my 16th birthday, this shy, sheltered, small town teenager left her parents for the first time.

I arrived at the Diocesan Youth Office excited and nervous. I was the only person from my church parish on the trip. I knew two other girls from school, but they were from a different parish. The moment my parents left I was so full of emotions that I burst into tears as I waited to get on one of the many 15 passenger vans for our 15+ hour long journey from Baton Rouge to the University of Notre Dame. The youth minister from the neighboring parish took me under her wing and I immediately felt at ease. Unlike school, I quickly made friends with people in the van. I knew right then these were my people.

CLI was a life changing moment for me. It opened my eyes to people and places outside of my small hometown. It let me experience my faith in a way I never had before. I was thrilled to learn there were other teenagers just as excited about their relationship with God as I was! When our 10-day trip was over I left wanting more. I wasn’t ready for my retreat experience to end.

Junior and senior year I got even more involved in campus ministry at my high school. I joined the neighboring parish youth group. I joined “youth board”, the diocesan group of high school and college students who helped plan diocesan-wide youth events. I may not have had the language at the time, but doing ministry, doing retreat work was and is something I am uniquely called to do by God.

I went to college and knew I wanted to major in Theology so that I could do youth ministry. I wanted to provide the same experience for other youth that had been so pivotal to me. I was excited about my faith and wanted to share that excitement with others.

After college, I came back to Louisiana where I got my first job in another small town as their youth minister. I couldn’t have asked for a better first “real” job. I had an amazing group of kids and volunteer parents who wanted to see the program succeed and grow.

As time went on, I got my Masters of Pastoral Studies, got married, and continued to work in ministry in youth ministry, campus ministry, and teaching.

Another unique call I have from God is to be a mother. I am still so grateful that I was working in a parish after our daughter was born that let me bring her to work. When she was a little over a year old, we moved back “home” to Louisiana, and she had to go to daycare for the first time as I had gotten a job teaching high school religion. It was during that time we learned I was expecting again. After a lot of prayers, my husband and I decided I would stay home with our two children.

There were times that I missed working, but overall, I was so grateful that I had the option to spend time home with our kids. Over the years of being home, the desire to return to ministry would surface, but I didn’t know what that would look like with little ones in the house. When our fourth child was a little over a year, I really felt God calling me back to work. I thought I was looking for a “unicorn” job-something in ministry that was part time, flexible, and paid enough to justify putting our little one in a mom’s day out program.

God’s timing, as always, was perfect. I found a job doing part time youth ministry, and shortly after Becky reached out about working for her part time as well. I happily worked both jobs before realizing that while I was still called to ministry, my desire had shifted from working with youth to adults, so after a year I left my youth ministry job and have continued my work with Becky.

I am grateful for Ignatian Spirituality which has given me the language and tools to continue to discern what God is calling me to do in my life. I am grateful for the six years I had home as a stay at home mom. I am grateful for Becky, and that my job allows me to work a flexible schedule to be more available to our kids while they are still so young.

God has uniquely called me to ministry and motherhood. I may still be finding my voice in the world of adult ministry, but with an open heart to hear God’s will in my life I know I will continue to find my way.


Go Deeper:

  • What has God uniquely called you to do? After revisitng the Sense-Making handout reflect on these questions:
    • As you look back over your life, do you see any common themes and patterns?
    • What gifts do you find yourself using frequently?
    • What continues to bring you joy?
  • Praying with Scripture:  

 

 

Photo by Cong Wang on Unsplash

 

With experience in youth ministry, campus ministry, faith formation, and as a high school theology teacher, Charlotte has worked in numerous parishes and schools along the Gulf Coast and in the Diocese of Rockford. She holds a B.A. in Theology and Master of Pastoral Studies from Spring Hill College. Charlotte and her husband live in New Orleans with their four young children, where she enjoys Ignatian Spirituality, reading, listening to live music, and bike riding with her family.

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2 Comments

  1. Lynda

    Charlotte, it was so inspiring to read about your journey and how God has continued to provide for you what you needed and to bring you into ministries where your gifts have been used so well.
    I couldn’t help reflecting on my own spiritual journey and how God has been so generous with me also. I am so grateful to be used by God to bring others into a deeper relationship with Jesus. What a privilege.
    May God continue to use you in a powerful way!

    Reply
    • Charlotte Phillips

      Thank you, Lynda!

      Reply

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