I Found Community and So Much More

by Sophie Mongoven, St. Joseph Worker 2017-2018, Cretin-Derham Hall High School

Every day now I have to remind myself that there are still a few months in the St. Joseph Worker program. The end feels imminent and the shift in our lives is coming much too soon. As we prepare to move on, and next year’s workers discern if this is the path for them, I look back at what brought me here in the first place.

I was scared last year committing to something as all-encompassing as the St. Joseph Worker program. We have so many choices and opportunities, but practically our entire lives take place within the program structure. Where I sleep, what I eat, who I talk to, and how I spend my day are all a direct result of that one choice I made over a year ago. In some ways, that choice for me was made out of fear. As I looked for a future after college, I wanted to know that I would find a fierce and supportive group of women to help me take on my next adventure. What I was doing was less important to me than feeling that I had people looking out for me. I didn’t know who I would be without a community around me, loving and challenging me every day.

I found that community this year, but I also found so much more. Every day I learn a new skill or develop a new relationship, and all of them are unexpected. I never thought I would learn to cook for eight people efficiently and cheaply, and I never saw myself teaching a high school religion course. What I committed to last year was the unexpected: to open myself up to these opportunities, to face fears I didn’t even know that I had. It’s been difficult sometimes and I’ve felt lost more than a few times. But I think I’ve only begun to realize how profound an impact this experience has had on me. The program will end in June, but the relationships I’ve formed, the lessons I’ve learned, and the new way of seeing the world through the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph will all stay with me for the rest of my life.