The Holy Cross Heritage Pilgrimage, for me, has been transcending. It has not only brought the “New World” closer to its heritage but also connected the past to the present; thus, transcending time and space. During our first Mass of the pilgrimage, Fr. John DeRiso CSC greeted the pilgrims, “Welcome Home! You’ve done well.” At that instant, I had a vivid imagine of Fr. Moreau French-embracing Fr. Sorin with those words. While it was not Fr. Moreau, it was another CSC; and it was not Fr. Sorin who returned home, it was us! There we were, 175 years after the founding of the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame Trail! Shameless plug.), 19 pilgrims journeyed home. To be welcomed home with such proud embrace was an enlightening moment for me. It sparked a deep connection and a sense of purpose in my collaborative work with the Congregation of Holy Cross and its coworkers. It rekindled the spirit within that burns for the zeal of spreading of the Kingdom of God—the very purpose of Fr. Moreau’s ministry. It gave deep meaning and purpose to my ministry as a Rector. I am a co-worker in this ministry and mission with the many Holy Cross priests that came before and many who will follow. It was real! An “ah ha” moment if you will.
As student affairs professionals, we are so often caught up in the busyness of our daily lives that we don’t have time to take a step back to take a long view of the big picture, which prompts a poem that I have used to keep myself grounded:
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
In the work of caring for our students, it can be frustrating and powerless at times because we don’t know if all the late nights and early mornings will bear any fruits. Sometime it can even feel insignificant. As I am writing this, the awareness of self-knowledge and my understanding of God’s providence and the mystery of salvation are being revealed. This grace is humbling.
Self-centeredness can creeps up on us in this ministry—“no one is dealing what I have to deal with!” Thus, we can get discouraged, feeling self-centered, to see our insignificance in our work, to think of what we can or cannot do, and forget about God and God’s will and providence.
One thing is certain, God never forgets! God knows our significance, our dignity and our worth. But God also expects us to accept, as from God’s hands, the daily situations God sends us and to act as Jesus would have acted and the grace to it.
Perhaps, Fr. Moreau and Fr. Sorin felt these turmoils 175 years ago when they were establishing the University of Notre Dame mission. Perhaps not. But I am confident that we share the same frustrations, helpless, and powerlessness in this work collaborative work. But taking step back, I wonder if Fr. Moreau could have ever imaged this great harvest that is the University of Notre Dame. The seeds that was planted, namely by sending Fr. Sorin to this Northern Indiana Mission, are being watered and hold future promises—the hope of the Cross. Our work is not yet completed and hopefully, our spirit is enlivened by this pilgrimage and home coming to continue this work as co-workers in God’s vineyard, working to catch a glimpse of heaven on earth at the University of Notre Dame. Heaven—our ultimate home, the destination of every pilgrim—God!
Written by Nhat Nguyen