A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role. - Yehuda Berg

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. - William Glasser

I’m not playing a role.  I’m being myself, whatever the hell that is. - Bea Arthur

I can mark the milestones of my life by the darkness before the transformation. Many months were dark leading up to the summer of 2014. My social circle consisted of drinking buddies, church-going friends, and others who I shared some fun times. I struggled with my work, career, and calling. I did not recognize who I was because I did not know myself.

I wanted to escape every day and feel numb towards life. I was in a constant state of anxiety and panic. I isolated myself to marinate in this condition and went to work disconnected from the students I counseled. While spending time with friends, I was restless and confusing to them.

I planned a vacation and did not act upon it because I was scattered. My friend called me one day and mentioned to me that she is on a waiting list for a retreat. Desperately, I called the ministry offering the retreat and was added to the waiting list. The next day, the voice on the phone was an angel extending an invitation. 

The drive to the retreat center was an hour and a half by car and marked the beginning of my faith journey. Resistant and hesitant upon arrival, I feared of not belonging and facing my self-worth. Four days was enough time to shed tears and walls through reconciliation with a priest who made me laugh and sob deeply, encounter a commUNITY, experience a BElonging, and go back to a familiar understanding of my BEing. In the closing mass, I sat amongst the retreatants with whom I shared a divine connection and felt a longing for them already.

Coming back home was one of the loneliest phases I had gone through in my adult life. Everything was familiar, but I could not identify what was different. I felt out of place with reality. Reaching out to my social circle, I continued to be out of sync with them, and the conversations were dull and unimportant.

Then I figured it out. In my immersion in the Caritas commUNITY, I had forgotten how to navigate the operations of my daily existence as I knew it. The way I interacted, the language I used, the songs I listened to in the haven of Prince of Peace Abbey were closest to my genuine sacred BEing. I arrogantly thought that because I had transformed, the world around me did as well.

As the reality of my world continues to transform, I am too. Encountering setbacks in the last three years, I have made leaps and bounds. My life has been ruined for the better forever. My search for commUNITY has brought me to a small faith sharing group that is in transformation itself. Although we are different people, there is a BElonging to each other and acceptance of our current BEing.

Do you long for or BElong to a commUNITY that celebrates your beautiful, complicated BEing?  In what ways are you being invited to a holy transformation?  How have you answered that call?

Maria Padua


Photo by Maria Padua, Prince of Peace Abbey



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