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Care Is Always First

by Kelly Herron

Most journeys that people choose begin with a clear plan. A person selects a destination and, nowadays, looks at their GPS to check the route.

That is not the case when the journey is God's choice. God has a myriad of ways to say, Just start. No need for GPS. Discern the steps as you go. I'll guide you.

In 1998, as a mom of toddlers, the last thing I thought of was going to seminary. However, I was asking the question, How can I help? I was living in Pontiac and had recently become involved with the Cursillo movement. I told myself, There has to be something I can do to help the Church, help Christians, and help people living in poverty.

The answer came in an invitation to formation. I began studying at Sacred Heart in 1999. It was quite an adventure; one of a kind and very rich for my spiritual and academic formation. I graduated with an MA degree in pastoral studies and began work at St. Columban Parish in Birmingham. However, I was on a journey with no clear plan.

Where was I headed? What path would it take? What would I learn along the way?

Thankfully, God's grace is enough. I suspended my need to know and relied on God to guide my steps. I let God speak to me through others, prayer, and my daily lifeeven through my growing kids. I didn't just pray and read. I prayed with others and read the best books on God and service. My seminary formation had prepared me well for discernment, community, and service.

Today, I am executive director of St. Frances Cabrini Clinic of Most Holy Trinity Church in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. It is the oldest free clinic in the country, started by Fr. Clement Kern in 1950 to serve immigrants, orphans, and people living in poverty.

At Cabrini, we focus on caring, learning, and serving. The people come for compassionate care for their mind, body, and soul; the students come to learn about medicine in a poor, inner-city clinic; the volunteer health care professionals come to serve people who are marginalized and in need. The foundation of care at Cabrini is rooted in Catholic social teaching, the foundational teaching that I first learned at Sacred Heart. Every person who comes through the door becomes family. For some, we are all they have.

Every person is cared about first, and then we figure out the rest. Compassion before tasks. I remember this every day: Care first; the privilege of relationship is a gift from God. Of course, I didn't think that up on my own. It is all rooted in Scripture, especially Matthew 25 and Matthew 11:30: service, care, and sharing burdens.

In between St. Columban and now, I have learned much and, hopefully, grown a lot. It has been quite a journey, one in which Sacred Heart was a big contributor.

I'm so appreciative I was open to letting God make the plan for my life, instead of me making the plan.

Kelly Herron

Kelly Herron is executive director of St. Frances Cabrini Clinic of Most Holy Trinity Church in Detroit. She earned her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from Sacred Heart in 2003.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.