By Dominique Cognetti

Going on mission is a choice that we can make every day, just by serving others. And each time we serve others, we are serving God! That is why I ask myself daily: How will I serve my brothers and sisters today?

Mission will look different for each of us at different points in our lives. There’s no specific definition of mission; but for me the meaning of mission is to step outside of myself, to serve and love another fully. A good model of how to love our neighbors is the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy founded by Jesus. They are my great loves and the foundation upon which I try to live my life. I know and show God’s love by doing these Works of Mercy in service–by dying to myself for the good of another. The Lord has shown me how to do this through two particular experiences:

  1. Saturday Soup Kitchen

Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, I volunteered at a soup kitchen. It’s a catechetical soup kitchen, which means that we not only prepare the food and greet our neighbors, but also hear a brief talk on God and the Bible. Then we serve the food and eat together.

I live for these Saturdays. I continuously go each week, not just because I like going or am getting recognition, but because I want to encounter Jesus face to face. I go to see the people there, to hear their stories, to listen to them. I go because every person needs a familiar face to see. Familiarity creates trust, and trust creates friendships, and friendships are formed out of love. Each person deserves to be shown the love of Christ, and I can be the vessel that makes this love available to them. Going to this soup kitchen every month has helped me to understand what it means to die to yourself for another. For when I am tired or burnt out and do not want to go, I remember who I will meet there. And that person–simply put–is Jesus.  

  1. Meeting Rosa in Honduras

On my first mission to Honduras in March 2019, I met a little girl named Rosa. I came to know and love this little girl, and I decided to induct her into my household (a prayer-based sisterhood at my university). I also gave Rosa my sweatshirt with the name of my household, Rosa Mystica, on it.

This past spring I went back to Honduras, and I knew before departing that I was going to see Rosa again. Before I left, I put together a little photograph of my household, a note, and a t-shirt to give her. She loved it! After giving her the note, she asked if I wanted to see her home. We arrived and I was shown pictures of her parents’ wedding, the children’s first communions, etc.

Then Rosa’s mom said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. She spoke about how God will always guide me and Rosa because of the relationship I have with her. She said that I have been such a blessing to her family, and that I have helped Rosa with her walk of faith. I sat there amazed at what she was saying. All I had done was pray for her little girl and her family. All I had done was give Rosa a t-shirt and sweatshirt.

Later that night, as we were having adoration for the village, I sat there in front of the Eucharist and wept. I wept for myself and the impact this child had had on me. And I wept because I was leaving this sweet girl, knowing I probably wouldn’t see her again. At that moment my heart broke. But I also knew that I had to give my sister in Christ to the Lord. I wiped away my tears and went to kneel next to Rosa. In prayer, I lifted her to the Lord, knowing that He would watch over her. I realized that I would see Rosa again, even if only through the eyes of faith. I know that both of us are connected in the Sacrament of the Eucharist–that communion ultimately unites the Body of Christ, His Church.

The next day, I made the sign of the cross on Rosa’s head, and to my surprise, she returned it. It was in that moment that I knew why I was back in Honduras. It was not an act of my will, but God’s; and it was not for my sake, but for Rosa’s. Months have passed now, and I still ponder the effects of that mission. I pray each night for my sweet sister in Christ. 

I wanted to share these experiences with you because mission doesn’t just have one set of criteria. Mission means serving those in your local soup kitchen and those in a foreign country. But most importantly, mission means serving those in your day to day life. Service begins in our own backyards and carries across the nations. Love has no bounds. 

Keep being the missionary disciples that you are called to be, dear friends. I am proud of you! And don’t forget to ask yourself daily: How will I die to myself to serve another today?