“My biggest takeaway from the GIVEN Forum was to not be afraid of Our Lady and to really let her into my life.”
Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
Hello! My name is Allison and I am a daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, roommate, and friend. Fun fact: I was born in Canada and became an American citizen when I was 21 years old.
“I have been on a journey of surrendering my plans and learning to place my trust in God. He hasn’t let me down and I have seen again and again just how patient Jesus is and how He truly waits for us to open the doors of our hearts to let Him in.”
In high school, I started going to Mass by myself. I had a desire to know God but had no idea what to do or where to start. All of that changed when I met my friend Kailin in college. We were in the same nursing program and her joy and faith were so attractive to me. She loved Jesus in a way that was authentic and real and that I had never seen before. I wanted what she had. Through this friendship, my faith grew exponentially not only because she taught me how to have a relationship with Jesus but also because she asked sincere questions about the Catholic faith. I had never been to adoration, prayed a rosary, or even heard the words divine mercy before college. Since then, I have been on a journey of surrendering my plans and learning to place my trust in God. He hasn’t let me down and I have seen again and again just how patient Jesus is and how He truly waits for us to open the doors of our hearts to let Him in.
Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
I am a pediatric oncology nurse and it is an immense privilege to care for children and their families during the hardest and most vulnerable times of their lives. I also spend a significant portion of my free time volunteering as the stateside missionary coordinator for a Catholic children’s home in Honduras called the Farm of the Child.
“Christ used these experiences to help me believe in His love and to teach me that my worth comes not from what I do but from whose I am.”
I served as a missionary and nurse with the Farm for two and half years, and my experiences there have deeply impacted my faith and the way I view the world. The Farm was a place where I quickly encountered my limitations, my weaknesses, and my insufficiencies, and it was a deeply humbling experience to re-learn how to do just about everything. However, through it all, I am convinced that God wasted nothing – all of my struggles with Spanish, the humility of living in community, the weight of suffering our children experienced, my struggles with obedience to the rules and leadership, and all the tears and prayers in our chapel. Christ used these experiences to help me believe in His love and to teach me that my worth comes not from what I do but from whose I am.
“In both my hospital nursing and missionary coordinator roles, I am very passionate about helping new graduates identify their gifts and find their callings.”
In both my hospital nursing and missionary coordinator roles, I am very passionate about helping new graduates identify their gifts and find their callings. I love getting to precept new nurses, build up their confidence, and instill in them our call to care for the whole person and the family. I also love to talk with people who desire to serve in mission, hear how God is speaking in their life, share my own experience, and help guide them to an organization that might be a good fit for them.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
Jesus told a mystic, Venerable Sister Consolata Betrone, “You only worry about loving me, and I will take care of everything else to the smallest detail.” These words have carried me through a lot of twists and turns – Jesus really has taken care of the smallest details and has fulfilled long-desired prayers.
What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?
My biggest takeaway from the GIVEN Forum was to not be afraid of Our Lady and to really let her into my life. In the year prior to the GIVEN Forum, I had been given three copies of the Marian consecration, but I actively avoided it. The month before GIVEN, my sister invited me to spend her 30th birthday visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. We had a great time, but I did not understand the mysterious affect this 500 year-old image of Mary had on all the devoted pilgrims.
“My experience encountering Our Lady at GIVEN has brought a longed-for peace and clarity into my life.”
Imagine my surprise when at the GIVEN Forum a month later I found yet another copy of the Marian consecration in our bags and then walked into the conference hall and saw a giant image of Our Lady of Guadalupe – I truly couldn’t escape her! I finally prayed a prayer of surrender and opened my heart to her. If God chose her out of all of humanity to be the mother of his Son, the Savior of our world, I just had to believe there was something there. I made my Marian consecration on the feast of the Queenship of Mary with a group of other young women from GIVEN. Mary really does lead us to Christ and my prayer life post-consecration has been much more honest and consistent. My experience encountering Our Lady at GIVEN has brought a longed-for peace and clarity into my life.
What is your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.
My GIVEN Action Plan is titled “How to Come Home” and the goal is to create transitional resources for Farm of the Child missionaries to guide them through the process of returning home after their service. I have found that there is lack of support and guidance for missionaries who return from a period of service abroad and I hope to meet that need.
“I have found that there is lack of support and guidance for missionaries who return from a period of service abroad and I hope to meet that need.”
We recently had a priest guide returning missionaries through an in-country day of reflection prior to their departure from the mission. We will also host a re-entry retreat facilitated by trained mentors and spiritual directors. I hope that these two activities, along with prayer, time, and healing, will help our missionaries reconcile the struggles during their time in mission and affirm the presence of Christ in these experiences. It is my desire that our missionaries can identify the gifts and skills they have received in mission and learn how to apply those to their next calling.