Growing God-Given Treasures — By Heather Morgan

Morgan-HeatherIn today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable about servants who were entrusted with a treasure over a period of time and judged based on the way they invested the treasure.

In November 2012 I began working for Saint Thomas More Newman Center & Parish. I thought this was going to be from where I retired when I was old and wrinkly. Like that servant who buried the treasure, I was given a gift and wanted to sit on it. In 2013, I was commissioned by one of my mentors, Deacon Gene, to serve as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist to the hospitalized. Another mentor, Eleanor Braddock, trained me, and with the Beth Lammers help, I was +1 to earning another coin with that treasure I had been given.

In 2014, Angelle Hall encouraged me to attend Catholics on Call, a conference at Chicago Theological Union for young people 30 and under to discern how they were being called to work for the Catholic Church. What do you know, I felt like I had really caught onto something! I came home and started hassling anyone who would listen about how to grow my hospital Eucharistic ministry into a career in chaplaincy! Jane Smith, Ginger Geeding, Deacon Gene Kazmierczak, Eleanor Braddock, and Jill Raitt all encouraged me to get my master’s degree and get some units of Clinical Pastoral Education (clinical practice to learn pastoral skills). The nearest opportunities for CPE were in Saint Louis, Kansas City, or Springfield. Get my graduate degree, then move away for a residency program is what I planned. +1

In 2015, I began my graduate studies through the Loyola Institute of Ministry through Loyola New Orleans. The program had been recommended by Joe Kouba and Angelle Hall who have their master’s degrees from the program. My program is all online! Did you know I’ve been taking one class each semester since then? I’m still not finished. Class of 2020, Lord willing. +1

In 2016, I continued my graduate studies and got married here at Newman to my gorgeous husband with the assistance of Deacons Frank Ruggiero and Gene. Deacon Gene called me one day from Boone Hospital, where he was doing chaplaincy work. There was a CPE opportunity in Columbia! I applied and was accepted, with a scholarship from Boone Foundation to boot! +1

In 2017, I began the Clinical Pastoral Education at Boone Hospital under the helpful and watchful eye of Rev. Richard Sullivan. It was very challenging to work 40 hours at Newman and go to Boone in the evenings being on for 60 hours a week for about five months. It was also incredibly rewarding to be with people in their sickness and their deaths. I completed one unit of CPE this past summer. +1

So here I go, with the treasure God blessed me with +5, being rewarded with even more responsibility as I go on to help people as their chaplain in a nearby community. For countless servants of Christ, Newman is the oasis that brings nourishment for the next part of the mission. Thank you, coworkers, for your guidance and patience. Thank you, students, for making me proud of you. Thank you, dedicated super volunteers, for your modeling and encouragement. Thank you, friends, for listening to me complain about towing cars. Thank you, Saint Thomas More Newman Center & Parish. I’ll see you soon.