Far from Perfect
Jul 1, 2020
“God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” I laugh out loud when I realized He called me. I remember saying that to my pastor when he offered me the job as faith formation coordinator for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Liverpool. “Are you sure you want me?” I remember asking. Since becoming faith formation coordinator, I have earned a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from St. Bernard’s; I have been promoted to Pastoral Associate for Education; and I minister to two linked parishes, The Catholic Communities of the Epiphany. I guess God is the one who is laughing now.
I don’t have a great conversion story, but it is relatable. I was born and raised Catholic. I never really questioned God’s place in my life. He was always present, always someone I have had a relationship with. While growing up, my family attended Mass every week. I studied the Bible with my Nana and sang in the church choir. As a young adult I taught CCD (as it was called back then) and tried to live as the good Christian my parents raised me to be. I received my undergrad in Business at Columbia and had a budding career in advertising. I married a good Catholic guy and started raising our two amazing boys. Life was great! It wasn’t until my twin nephews became terminally ill with an incurable disease that I realized how crucially important my relationship with Christ is.
The turning point came one morning while I was driving to my advertising agency. A song came on the radio that reminded me of my nephews, and I began to cry. Suddenly a car came out of nowhere and cut me off in traffic. I had to slam on my brakes in order not to hit the other car. When I gained my composure and looked up, I saw that the person’s license plate read, “Jesus Saves.” I thought, “Okay Lord, Your will be done. Where do You want me? What can I do?”
At this point in my faith journey I was volunteering at the Church coordinating Baptisms, educating young families on the sacraments, and assisting Father during Mass. While still in advertising and living the perfect life that I continually posted on Facebook, I started asking God if there was somewhere else He wanted me. Shortly thereafter Father offered me the position of Coordinator of Faith Formation, and I’ve never looked back. There is definite comfort in finding the exact place God wants you to be.
As I grew into my new position, the desire to further my education in order to serve more effectively became clear. I went on to attain my Master’s in Pastoral Studies, which proved to be an undeniable way to grow in my life with Christ. My ministerial and spiritual formation experience offered at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry has redefined me not only as a minister, but also as a person, wife and mother – setting an example not only to my two boys and husband, but also to the people I proudly serve. I am the furthest example of perfect, but my willingness to learn in order to be a better person is my hope for all. We all need to learn more about Christ to grow in our relationship with Him.
I apply everything I learned to the ministry I am dedicated to. So many of the people I encounter need to be both evangelized and catechized. Many have not set foot in Church since they were young teens. To be able to get them excited about their faith by sharing the formation I have gained through attaining my Masters is unlike anything I could have learned on my own. I have come to realize the benefit of continually learning more about Christ to grow in my relationship with Him and to help the many families I serve to grow closer to Him as well.
Some say that one needs to be young to minister effectively to youth. I would argue that it is my life experience that makes me a better minister. My life experiences as a wife, mother, and student are what make me able to relate to young families preparing for their child’s baptism, the students and parents of faith formation, and the teens in our very active youth group. All levels of pastoral care are about building relationships and helping others to grow in Christ. Accompanying people through all of these different life-stages is an overwhelming honor. I accomplish this through reverence, love, a lot of humor, and a deep love of Christ. I try to keep things real. It may not be perfect, in fact far from it, but I believe that is one of the reasons people relate well to me. I am a mom and wife who lives out a real life, but who has Christ at the center of it. I understand a lot of their struggles and can listen and pray with my absolute hope being that they can see Him through me.
Until Jesus comes in glory, he is using His people to change the world every day. We are all called to participate in this world living out His mission to bring the message of Christ to others. The place to start is within each of us. In order to do so we must be willing to let ourselves be changed by Christ. We must strive to live in His image and love others as we do ourselves. I am confident that I am where God wants me to be: making changes in this world by being Christ-like so that others will see and experience Him through me. I use the gifts given to me by God, my realness and humor, along with His grace to minister to His people so that we all can grow together in His love.
Amy Wojcikowski has been the Faith Formation Coordinator for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, in Liverpool, NY, for the past 12 years. She earned her Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from St. Bernard’s, and is the Pastoral Associate for Education, in addition to ministering to two linked parishes, The Catholic Communities of the Epiphany. She and her husband have two boys.