Teresa Jansen, 20, oldest of 10 children, began her Riverside journey in 2014 when she played maid Marian in a summer production of Robin Hood. After graduating from high school, Teresa spent a year working for Riverside before heading off to Ireland to serve at Holy Family Mission, where she lives and prays in community with other young men and women. They are there to strengthen their own relationship with God, but also to help with outreach, by hosting onsite retreats and school missions.
One of the tasks Teresa enjoys is the opportunity to hone her guitar skills, an instrument she first learned to play during Riverside folk sessions. Music is always a big part of Holy Family’s ministry, and the missionaries can count on daily Rosary, Mass, and Adoration, but other than that, no day is the same.
“That’s a good thing,” Teresa said. “(In fact,) Riverside taught me that there is an epic adventure in every moment and that we are all part of a deeper story. There is something more meaningful than what we can see around us, though sometimes we have to go searching and do battle for it.”
Sometimes the adventure can simply be the unexpected, such as having to delay a Rosary walk to fish out Rosary beads that fell down a drain. Or the mundane, like finding joy in taking on a chore that no one else wanted to complete. Other times it is spiritual, perhaps tackling a difficult passage during Catechism Class or Mission/Retreat Preparation.
“We’ve found out this year that even some basic teachings such as ‘God loves you, individually, just as you are,’ are not so straightforward, basic, and easy to accept, but rather are rich and full of such deep meaning,” Teresa said.
A Lesson in Storytelling
Weekday afternoons are occupied with practical sessions, which could mean tasks like making beds to prepare for a weekend retreat, but it also could mean preparing for a theatrical performance. Teresa’s group already has performed a play about St. Lucy and the “Everything” drama. The latter portrays how sin works to pull people away from Jesus, but also demonstrates that He never stops working to pull them back to Him.
“There is a battle going on for our souls, but Jesus is triumphant. It was really powerful! I was also struck again by how effective story-telling and the arts can be, in pointing us to the Lord, glorifying Him, and building the Kingdom,” Teresa said.
When Teresa made the decision to join Holy Family Mission, she believed she was coming to Ireland to “do something for God.” What she found out was that God had actually called her so that “He could do something for me,” she said.
“I’m usually the one who wants to be in control, thinking that I can do great things and change the world by myself. But over the past months…I’ve been repeatedly reminded of the Lord’s unstopping love for me; that He delights in me, is holding me, and works for my good,” Teresa said.
Free Time Fun
Lest anyone think that being at Holy Family Mission is all work and no play, Teresa noted there has been plenty of time for fun. She has enjoyed running through the “gorgeous green scenery,” competing at the pool table, and savoring the fruits of the talented bakers in the Holy Family house.
There aren’t retreats every weekend, which leaves room for excursions farther away in Ireland. Teresa’s favorite places so far have been Galway and Dingle.
“I have found a new fascination for the sea; the West Coast of Ireland really is beautiful. I love how God gives us the desires in our hearts, even though we sometimes have to wait or sometimes think that they’re out of the question! He’s such a good Father Who loves to give good gifts. I’ve learned that He does care, even when the desires seem small and insignificant in our own eyes,” Teresa said.
To learn more about Teresa’s spiritual journey, listen to her personal testimony //youtu.be/iV-k_4mPZHY and to learn more about Holy Family Mission check out their website at //www.holyfamilymission.ie
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