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Mar 08, 2013


My favorite moments in life are those that remind me I don’t have to have all the answers; that life is a process.

On March 2, I was honored and humbled to attend CTU’s annual Harambee! fundraiser, supporting the Augustus Tolton Pastoral Ministry Program, which trains Black Catholics for leadership in the Church. Honored because it was a celebration of life (Harambee means “all pull together” in Swahili), and humbled because the people celebrating had conquered excruciating circumstances beyond my comprehension.

One Tolton Scholar spoke about his belief in not just a “good” God, but an awesome God. This awesome God helped him cope with the loss of several close relatives, including his own infant child, in the span of a few years. He also needed an awesome God when doctors told him both of his kidneys were failing. His challenges were fierce, but his conviction to live, and live victoriously, was fiercer.

Another Tolton Scholar spoke about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago, and how medical professionals warned her about the limitations it would place on her life. She is now happily married with three sons and has earned not one, not two, but three master’s degrees. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, she said, but her faith has sustained her through all the obstacles.

Listening to their stories made me appreciate my relatively small difficulties. But more than that, it reminded me that although life can be bewildering and even agonizing at times, our struggles are our strength. They give us purpose, and bolster our compassion for others.

Everyone’s challenge is unique, but we are all works in progress. Shane Koyczan, an accomplished poet and writer, recently gave a TED Talk about his struggle: being bullied. The pain became his putty. And he has made a masterpiece. That’s the opportunity obstacles give us. So we can harambee and celebrate life to the fullest!

See Shane's TED Talk.

Karla Dawn Meier | Marketing and Communications Assistant | 773.371.5416 |