by Mary Henige
As background, I have two communications degrees, and have spent twenty-eight years at General Motors in various public relations roles. The last five years I've overseen social media, digital communications, research and reputation for GM's corporate brand. I began to understand that the communications talents I have been given could be used in service of the Church. So, more than three years ago, I applied to the seminary, took the five prerequisite courses, and just completed my first semester working toward a master's degree in theology with a concentration in the New Evangelization.
I'm often asked how I fit in school and homework with a demanding job, a husband, two teenagers, and everything else we're called on to do. I say it's by God's daily grace because, frankly, it isn't easy on most days.
First, I need to joyfully live my primary vocation as a wife to Chris, and mother to Margaret (15) and John (13). Second, I have a commitment to my employer and have enjoyed an incredibly interesting career at General Motors. Then I have other role—daughter to Mary and Joe, sister, aunt, friend, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parishioner, etc. They are primarily all Martha role—I'm the consummate organized person who plans and serves. However, my soul longs to be Mary at the feet of Jesus, to be in his presence and to learn.
Sacred Heart is my focused time with Jesus. It is my weekly retreat: to eat in the dining room, to see the eager seminarians and the other lay students, to pray in the chapel where countless seminarians and priests have prayed for nearly one hundred years. The faculty members are experts in their subject areas, devout Catholics themselves, and begin each class with prayer. The presence of the Holy Spirit is everywhere.
What will I do with my degree? I have some ideas that involve a second career when I retire, but clearly they aren't as spectacular as what God has planned. We're on a need-to-know basis with God, and when I need to know, he will tell me. However, I do know that I'm not studying to become a nun or a deacontwo vocations people have speculated I'm preparing for!
Meanwhile, we're all journeying toward heaven and along the way we're supposed to be on the lookout for souls we can touch. Even with these few classes I've been able to witness to others: a reporter who wanted a conservative Catholic woman's opinion regarding Pope Benedict's resignation, and with a former colleague who was considering leaving the Church because she didn't understand our teaching on homosexuality.
I'm enjoying my Sacred Heart journey. Each lecture I hear, each book I read, and each paper I write helps to reveal the intricately beautiful world God has made for each of us. I pray many more busy Detroit area Catholics also will find their way to our Sacred Heart jewel and to the feet of Jesus.
Mary HenigeMary T. Henige is in the Master of Theology student program at Sacred Heart.