By Janet Middleton
I am continually amazed at God’s ability to shake up my life and show me new opportunities to experience His incredible grace. In November of 2012, I travelled from my home in Homer Alaska all the way to the southern reaches of Texas to spend some time in silence and discernment at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer. As a busy wife and mother of two amazing daughters, I needed a place to pray and turn off those voices that so lovingly distract me. A time to discern whether or not I was called to participate in the Oblate Associates program. I was also preparing my heart to begin a formation program for Spiritual Directors.
I had been fortunate to work as a Parish Life Coordinator here in Homer at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church for 2 plus years under the leadership of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Fr. Andrew Sensenig, OMI, Fr. Joseph Dowling, OMI, Fr. Tony Dummer, OMI, Fr. Roger Bergkamp, OMI and Brother Craig Bonham, OMI led the team with other wonderful visiting priests coming to share in this important ministry; I became inspired to learn more about their missions. Fr. Andy Sensenig was happy to give me materials to read about their founder St. Eugene. I had visited the Shrine in Belleville and completed a two week self-guided retreat in which I read much about his life. Much of what I read resonated with my own emerging passion to work with those in need. As a Parish Life Coordinator I had the opportunity to work with members of our community who live on the margins of our small town at the end of the road. I learned the importance of helping those in need both physically and spiritually. I have since discerned a calling to be trained in Spiritual Direction and am now working on a certification. It is my hope to work with those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford the luxury of having a Spiritual Director. I also hope to use my director skills in my work as a Hospice volunteer. I find that there is often no lonelier or more marginalized place on earth than the final journey to Our Lord. Many people in Alaska have ventured here away from their families of origin and are left with very little support when they enter into a hospice situation. It is an honor to companion them.
I am happy to say that my time at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer was profitable. I was able to get in touch with my passion which is working with and companioning the poor and most abandoned, particularly the women, the economically suppressed, and the dying of our community. I strongly recommend making the journey to Sarita to spend some time in silence with the wonderful staff and surroundings. I couldn’t have chosen a more fitting place to sit in silence with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I was blessed with the opportunity to join the core community in daily prayer. A perfect time to practice St. Eugene’s L’Oraison. (A practice that I continue daily back here in Homer). Fr. Kelly Nemeck, OMI and Fr. Andrew Sensenig, OMI were happy to witness my commitment to the OMI Associate program on November 10th in the Chapel of the Little Children. What a wonderful day. I look forward to growing in my knowledge of St. Eugene and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I plan to continue on with my ministries here in Homer. God continually blesses me in my family roles as wife and mother, in my parish ministries and in my greater community works both locally and globally. I now pray with a greater awareness and kinship with St. Eugene and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.