Missionary Life

The whole crew for religious testimonies Sr Juliett and Br Vittorio

Hey Guys! It’s been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to blog and I’ll have to keep this short but I wanted to share some thoughts from my first month as a missionary!

On days like today I feel like though I gave up stuff to become a missionary, I realize that God is rewarding me even more for my decision than what I gave up. It is such an honor to be able to occasionally be the vessel by which God reveals His love to others.

Prayer is so important! When we pray and ask God to allow us to meet someone we need to, it happens! Two quick examples from the past two days:

1. My teammate (TD! Hello?) Perla and I were walking around campus by the dorms before Sunday night mass telling students that there was mass and where it was (so many don’t know!) that night, and beforehand we said a prayer asking Him to direct us to whoever He wanted us to meet. We got to meet my new friend Carlos. He was walking with headphones in the opposite direction, and when I first said hi and tell him about mass, he didn’t even notice me. But Perla was even more persistent (and awkward haha) by coming right up to him so that he had to take his earbuds out. We told him and he was like, “ok, I’ll come with you.” So we headed over together. Turns out he grew up Catholic and was even an altar boy all through high school, but since he is a freshman he had no idea that there was mass on campus. I got to sit with him at mass and exchange contact numbers so that we can go lift and go hiking together. Praise God!

2. Just tonight I was on my way to my discussion group with students about the relationship between science and God when I was texting a friend asking for prayers that I can share the Gospel with many students on campus. It was a wonderful discussion group.. but what was so amazing that there was this woman sitting by who was close enough to hear what we were talking about who started talking with us and was so interested in God and faith. I got to share the Gospel with her and help her get connected with the Newman Center and my contact info so hopefully she will come to understand Christianity more (she believes in God but isn’t sure about stuff, grew up Jehovah’s Witness) soon!

The students at Montclair State University are awesome! It’s a much smaller community than I’m used to at the University of Illinois, but because of that I’m able to get to know them much better!

That daily holy hour and daily mass are so necessary.

Prayers that the rosary group I’m trying to start up will grow would be much appreciated!

Oh yea! I’m going to Nicaragua over spring break on a mission trip with FOCUS missions! Any college aged student is welcome to join! I can’t wait to go to serve the poor and share the Gospel (and live it!) with them!

Any prayers would be much appreciated! Thanks and God bless!

Tithing

As a missionary, I’ve encountered a certain part of the faith that most of the laity don’t get too familiar with: dependence on the generosity of others for financial support.

Yep, as a missionary, I have to fund raise everything that I live on. I’m pretty much done with the actual fund raising now, but all summer I was doing it all the time: mailing, calling, visiting, asking. It was a heck of a journey, but praise God I seem to be in the clear!

I learned just how generous people are financially.. people who I know had no business donating to me offered what they could, and people who could have easily given a smaller amount stepped it up and were super generous.

Well, being in a situation where I have to “beg” for money really helped me to realize that I have to be generous myself for others. Even though I have to fund raise, I actually tithe myself! For anyone who isn’t familiar, tithing is offering 10% of what you earn to God- to your church, local ministries, etc. (It’s biblical of course and the Church teaches it doesn’t have to be 10%, but whatever you think is appropriate)

IT IS SO MUCH FUN TO GIVE AWAY MONEY TO GOOD CAUSES!!! It gives me so much joy and now I’m actually looking forward to what causes I’ll donate to next month! Do you guys notice that too?? I guess I can resonate with those groups and people asking for money now.. and realize how much it means to them. So whether or not you’ve ever been in my situation, just try to think of it from their point of view and understand how much it means to them.

So tithing is awesome! Plus it helps keep us from becoming too addicted to our own money. The same way that it’s healthy to pray every day to keep us connected to God throughout the day, tithing helps remind us that our wealth is not actually ours! It’s all God’s and in His generosity He’s given us it. Is money your god or is God your god? That seems easy to answer at first, but think about it.. have there ever been times where you’ve put your financial standing first before God? If so, you might be in danger of committing idolatry of money as your God instead of our Lord. Hard words, but we all need to hear them.

I also can testify that God gives back with abundance what we give Him in donations. I wasn’t doing too hot with my fund raising at first, and was still well below my goal at the time that I first got paid. Well, a week later this was still the case and I was definitely worrying about whether I’d have enough to make it to campus! It was then that I finally got around to tithing that first payment.. and then all of a sudden within the next two or three days I had a few big donors join me and I was in the clear! It was crazy how clearly this stood out to me.. it seemed like I might not make it, and then all of a sudden I had some wiggle room! Praise God, He is generous to generous people!

Thank you so much to all my donors and all those generous people around the world. God is our god, not money :)

FOCUS Parish Talk/Appeal

This is the text of my parish talk that I’m giving this weekend at my home parish, with a few minor changes:

Remember Deacon Jerry’s homily last week about evangelizing? And the Gospel reading, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers.”

Hi *wave*. My name is Chris Goulet and I am a Catholic missionary.

Now the first thing that people ask when I tell them that is which third world country am I going to? Africa? China? Saudi Arabia? Those are good places to go. But look around in the pews right here.

There is a generation missing here – my generation. They are asking questions:   Does the Church even notice me?  Is Jesus Christ really relevant to my life? Why do I need to go to church on Sundays anyways?

What commonly happens is that kids are raised in Catholic homes and then leave for college.  And it’s there where they walk away from the faith. I bet that every single person here personally knows someone who has fallen away from the faith while in college.

But I have good news for you!

Unlike most of my peers, college is the place where my faith matured. I encountered missionaries and fellow students on fire for Jesus Christ, thanks to FOCUS- the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. When I moved into my dorm at the University of Illinois as a freshman, I had the opportunity to sign up for a Catholic bible study. I jumped at the opportunity, as I’d never experienced a Catholic small group before. It turns out that this was a FOCUS bible study, and these guys, especially the leaders, had a profound impact on me. Faith wasn’t just something that they confined to Sunday mornings, it was a way of life for them. Jesus wasn’t just a historical figure but a savior who they personally knew.

We need to reach out to young adults while they are in college. At the campus that I am going to, only about 3% of Catholics go to Sunday mass. 3%, and that’s just counting the Catholic student body- we need to be reaching out to everyone. That’s how urgent this call is.

There are so many different stories that I could share to demonstrate that FOCUS works, but here are some big picture stats. Despite only being around for 15 years, and we’re already at 83 college campuses across the United States, including local schools like Illinois, Bradley, UIC, Northwestern, Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Loras College. We reach over 10,000 students in weekly bible studies. In addition, there have been about 400 religious vocations fostered. Because of these results, our founder and president, Curtis Martin, was one of the 9 lay people appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict last fall to participate in the Synod on the New Evangelization.

As a full time missionary, I will be presenting and witnessing to our faith on campus in a way that only someone my age can, constantly investing in the students and meeting them where they are at. We are investing on college campuses so that the future leaders of this country will take their faith with them everywhere they go, sharing the Gospel with all, serving the poor, and building up the communities where they live.

But this mission isn’t just about me and my fellow missionaries,

YOU can join me in making a difference in the lives of young people!

As you could imagine, college students don’t pay us to serve them.

As a full-time FOCUS missionary, all of my funding will come from concerned individuals like you.

Specifically, I need to find about 50 partners who are willing to join my monthly support team, so that I can get on campus.

  • I ask you to prayerfully consider partnering with me.  Support, in any amount, is very much appreciated and makes a significant impact.
  • FOCUS is a nonprofit organization, so your gifts are 100% tax deductible, and there are no maximum or minimum gift amounts.

In your brochure, you will find a response card.  By filling out this card, you are not making a financial commitment today.  But please fill out the response card now with your contact information if you are interested in hearing more about FOCUS.  I would love to sit down with you this week, so I will be in the back of the church after Mass to collect them from you.

While you are filling that out, I would like to thank Father and you all for allowing me to share my work with you.  FOCUS gives me so much hope for the future of the Church. I extend a special thank you to those of you who are considering partnering with me to make a difference.

With your help, I can reach out and touch the lives of many young people!

I look forward to meeting you right after Mass.  God bless you all.

*** If you would like to join me as a mission partner, I’d be more than happy to speak with you and share more about what I’ll be doing. You can email me at chris.goulet@focus.org. ***

No Time Like the Present

Two of my friends have passed on to heaven in the past month.

College kids. Wow. And totally out of the blue. Praise God for faith. I can’t help but think of the divine mercy image and repeat to myself “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Jesus, I trust in Thee

It reminded me that the Christian faith isn’t just for the nice times. No, it’s actually more appropriate for when things ARE NOT okay. Because at times like this when I could easily despair that I lost them forever (with the agnostic outlook), I know through my faith that they are with God in heaven and that this isn’t the end but just the beginning of the glories of life!

Sometimes I forget that people die. But with all of the horrible events in the world news like the bombings in Boston, it’s helped me think more about the necessity to live every moment the way that I’d like to die.

I don’t think that I love enough. I don’t think that I go out of my way for others enough.

Life isn’t about picking the safest path, but about living in boldly to glorify God.

Pope Francis gave a fantastic reflection on this theme today:

“(The parable of the talents) makes us reflect on the relationship between how we use the gifts we have received from God and his return when he will ask us how we have used them. … This tells us that our awaiting the Lord’s return is a time of action … time to make the most of God’s gifts, nor for ourselves, but for him, for the Church, for others. [It is] the time in which to always seek to make good grow in the world. Particularly in this time of crisis, today, it is important not to be locked up in ourselves, removing our talents, our spiritual and material riches, everything that the Lord has given us, but to open ourselves, to be compassionate, to be attentive to others.”

I know that I could do a better job of honoring God with the gifts that He has given me. Often I am too selfish and think about what I want instead of what others need.

“In the square today there are many young persons. To you, who are at the beginning of life’s path, I ask: have you thought of the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how to put them at the service of others? Don’t take your talents away! Bet on great ideals, those ideals that enlarge our hearts, those ideals of service that make your talents fruitful. We were not given life so that we might hold it back, jealously, for ourselves, but it was given to us so that we might offer it. Dear young persons, you have great souls! Don’t be afraid to dream of great things!”

Don’t be afraid to dream of great things! This was something that I have had some trouble with. For the longest time, I thought that my life had to follow a certain calculated “safe” path. But slowly God has revealed to me how I should not take my life for granted as much. I chose to become a Catholic Missionary, and I’m incredibly excited for that next adventure starting next year! In addition, I have seen many friends discern vocations to the priesthood and religious life. It’s been so inspiring to see their courage and love of God that inspires them to make such radical choices! But dreaming of great things isn’t just becoming a priest or missionary.. there are great people like Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati who simply lived with charity towards all in the midst of regular lives!

“We will be judged by God on charity, on how we have love our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and most needy of them. Of course, we always have to keep in mind that we are judged, we are saved by grace, by an act of God’s gratuitous love that always precedes us. Alone we can do nothing. Faith is foremost a gift that we have received.”

He’s saying this over and over again because I need to hear it over and over again. Often it is the hardest for me to be charitable in the “normal” times of life: making dinner with my housemates, riding the bus, conversations with family. I have to remember to treat those situations as opportunity to serve God as well.

“Looking to the final judgement must never frighten us, rather, it urges us to live the present better. With mercy and patience, God offers us this time so that we might learn every day to recognize him in the poor and the small, might strive for the good, and might be vigilant in prayer and love. The Lord, at the end of our existence and of history, may then recognize us as good and faithful servants.”

Fatherhood

In honor of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, it’s a fantastic day for another post on manhood, specifically fatherhood!

So I’d like to start by stating that many of the issues that we like to talk about nowadays are “women’s issues.” But as much as they might be seen as “woman’s issues,” many of these issues are created by the failures of men and fathers.

For example, the problem of abortion is created by a lack of maturity by men. The choice of having sexual relations with a woman is a major choice that you don’t just do for fun. No, a man should recognize that this action naturally could lead to pregnancy, and with that a greater call to self sacrifice for the mother of his child and his child.

The problem of prostitution and pornography is also created by a lack of self control by men. These “industries” hurt both women and men by treating women as objects of pleasure instead of dignified human beings and trapping men in addictions that are very hard to break. This openness that our society has to these industries also makes it hard for men to remember to treat all women with respect and dignity.

The problem of children growing up fatherless is quite obviously failure on the part of men. What a horribly selfish crime it is that a man would help bring a child into the world, in what is perhaps the most intimate act on earth, only to never be a part of raising and caring his child?

Many children may have fathers but they do not spend enough time with them. I found a fantastic study from the US Department of Health and Human Services on the impact of fathers on children here, that I will be referencing for the rest of this post. According to the study, the way that children see their father treat their mother goes a long way in how they learn to treat others themselves. Sons learn from the good example of their fathers to treat women with respect and dignity at all times, and daughters learn from their fathers’ example how they should be treated by men as they grow up. The study even shows how fathers who do not control their anger or treat their wives with respect often father children who are anxious, withdrawn, or anti-social. On the academic side, the study shows that children whose biological fathers are highly involved in their lives have higher IQ scores and get better grades. The study even notes how it is important for children to be raised not just in a household of cohabitating parents but in a household of married parents. The sad truth is that if the parents are not married yet even though they are living together, it is much less likely that they will ever get married. And if they don’t get married, it is much less likely that they will stay together. Men need to man up and commit, for the sake of their wives and children! The last issue that the study addresses is how children with an involved father are more emotionally and socially secure and outgoing, especially as youths. These children are less likely to suffer from depression or get involved with crime and drugs.

All Christians are called to priestly, prophetic, and kingly roles. As men, we are specifically called to provide for our families and those in need, to teach and instruct others, and to lead in what we say and do. We must follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, thinking of others first and ourselves last. It is very important in our modern age, where we see a void of strong and selfless men in society, that we encourage each other and challenge each other to man up and start living for others instead of ourselves. By doing this, we will be addressing many of the current hot topic issues of our society right at the source.

St. Joseph, pray for us, that we may be men of faith, love, and courage, caring for all of the women, children, and needy in our lives!

Being Shy Helps..

Nobody.

Let me give you two profound examples from the past few days. In the first, I finally had the courage to have each of the guys in my bible study meet with me in the campus chapel for a little bit. What I wanted to do was to ask them in a more intimate setting how their faith was and if they knew Jesus. It was some really powerful stuff, they opened up and were honest with me, and through my tough awkward questions and their honesty, I was able to help them out a little bit and help them develop a game plan to help them grow in their faith lives. Praise the Lord! In my second example, just this morning I was praying at Planned Parenthood with our local sidewalk counselor and my friend Lauren when a man came up to us. This man really went at us as soon as we explained what we were standing there for, even saying that there aren’t enough abortions because of overpopulation. A few of his old girlfriends had had abortions because of him, and he was very much opposed to those who he called “anti-choicers.” But then our wonderful sidewalk counselor, God bless her, started talking with him very calmly and helped him to see the other side of the picture a little more clearly. We especially had a lot of progress with the point that since he was a secular humanist, he should be more open to protecting ALL humans, including the unborn. Through our dialogue, we earned his respect and he himself said that he respected what we were doing and wished us well. And he even gave us some prayer intentions so that we could pray for him! Please pray for him, his name is Scott. And get this: Scott recognized Lauren from the daily bread ministry, which Joy also used to work at and I weekly volunteer with. See!? Charities bring people together! It is through service and peaceful dialogue that we can come together and form strong friendships and help there be just a little bit more love in the world.

There are so many times in life where I have the opportunity to start up a good conversation, to ask a deep question, to go out of my way to help a stranger in need, and something gets in the way. It’s more than just being shy, but that’s what I’m going to call it for now. I don’t think that it’s healthy to live your life being too shy. What’s that going do for you anyways? No. Wrong question. More importantly, what’s that going to do for OTHERS? It’s not about us. When you’re on your deathbed and you’re looking back on your life, what are you going to think of? What do you want to be remembered for? I don’t know about you, but I want to be remembered for living my life to the fullest, by loving God and serving Him and by loving others and serving them to the best of my abilities. By the way, that’s the meaning of life. Check out the very first lines of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.”

Boss. That’s some beautiful stuff right there.

So what are we called to do? We’re called to become CHILDREN of GOD and HEIRS of GOD! Sick nasty man! And that brings me back to my point. How in the world are we participating in this lifestyle by holding back and worrying about what others think of us? Others may have the power to hurt us and oppress us in this life, but they have NOTHING on us eternally. The only opinion that really matters is God’s, and He kinda thinks we’re cool..

Yea! God came to us in the incarnation, Jesus Christ, and He died for us, each and every single one of us individually. He loves us so much! So my point.. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER worry about what people think about you. God loves you, and there could be nothing better.

For this reason, we should not be afraid to stick our neck out a little. Do it for the Lord. When we do this, we will open up opportunities that we never could have had before. There are so many friendships that we can have, so many fantastic experiences of charity and love, so many things to learn and experience! And if we’re shy, we’re holding back on all of this potential.

We have so much to share with each other if only we let ourselves. Let your love be strong and live life to the fullest.

“The glory of God is man fully alive” -St. Irenaeus