When we make plans, God laughs — By Theresa Nguyen
Growing up with a Newman Center in my hometown, I thought I knew what it was when I came to Columbia. It was a place with good music and doughnuts after Mass. So when I arrived at Mizzou four years ago, I went to Mass with my roommate, and we signed up to be lectors occasionally. I didn’t plan on getting too involved with the Newman Center. I wanted to be a journalist, and I wasn’t going to stick around Columbia after I graduated. But you know what they say — if you want to make God laugh, make plans.
I’m from the small town of DeKalb, Illinois, which is an hour west of Chicago. I’m the youngest of three, and my parents are doing the opposite of downsizing after the last kid leaves the house — this weekend they’re moving out of my childhood home to a bigger house down the street. My parents are both Vietnamese immigrants, and they taught me how to work hard and love harder. My oldest sister is an engineer in the Air Force, and my other sister just graduated with her doctorate in Pharmaceutical Studies. I always wanted to be a writer. I came to Mizzou to study journalism, and on the day of my graduation, Fr. Rich called me to say that I got this job.
My first real involvement with Newman was a year and a half ago at the Awakenings retreat. I signed up one night because I was looking for some peace in my life. I met people that weekend who were genuine and kind and loving, and I realized that Newman was more than just a place to go to Mass for one hour every week. I applied for the communications internship soon after and was blessed enough to work with Joe Bradley for a year.
Over the course of my internship here, God was working on my heart. I became more involved in Newman and created true, authentic friendships. I still wanted to be a journalist, but increasingly, I thought about working in the non-profit sector. I previously had an internship with a nonprofit foundation in Spain, and I loved working for an organization that I knew made a difference in people’s lives. The same feeling came back to me as I worked at Newman, and I put more effort in my work here than I did in my last year of schoolwork. I was applying to journalism jobs around the country when Joe Bradley told me he was leaving to work at Tolton High School. I knew in that moment that God had bigger plans for me than I had for myself.
I’ve officially been the Communications Coordinator for three weeks now, and I have loved every minute of it. I learn something new every day, like how to fix the Google TV or use the phone system. I get to work with and for kind, loving people. I thought that I wanted to leave Columbia, but God has led me here to give back to this place where I feel most at home. And now, I can’t imagine starting my career anywhere else.
Joe Bradley was a great Communications Coordinator and boss, and I know that I would not be in this position without his guidance. He did a lot of amazing work here, so I just ask for your patience as I get adjusted to this new role.
God has done many wonderful things in my life, and one of those things is now being able to serve this beautiful parish. My roommate, by the way, — who used to be a lector with me occasionally — is now a FOCUS missionary. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I am so excited to be here and to serve you. God is so good.