Sept. 14 marked 40 years since Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization, when she became the first native-born United States citizen to achieve sainthood. Nine days later, St. Junipero Serra became the first saint to be canonized on U.S. soil.
These events got me to thinking about people I’ve met with saint-like qualities. Occasionally I get to interview folks who gave up their previous professions and/or lives of comfort to devote themselves completely to doing God’s work.
Take Father Damian Milliken of Elmira, who has spent most of his life serving the poor in Africa.
Or Sister Grace Miller and Fathers Tony Mugavero, Bob Werth and Larry Tracy, who all have logged several decades serving the poor of Rochester’s inner city.
How about emergency personnel? Those who regularly pray the rosary in front of abortion clinics? Who dedicate themselves to prison ministry?
Or somebody like my mother, who would never make any headlines for greatness, but sacrificed much of her life to raise five children with complete dedication? This makes my mom, and others like her, great in my eyes — the ordinary doing the extraordinary.
All attached themselves to causes that most of us might just as soon avoid. They confronted difficult conditions with faith and dedication, determined to make a difference. They recognized that Jesus sets the bar of discipleship high, but didn’t blink.
Then again, the messages these people got from God were likely not much different than what the rest of us receive. It’s just that they were amazingly open to God’s call.
How much of that potential lies within me? To what degree can I become more like them?
It’s humbling to realize how far I still have to go. But because of knowing these people, I’m inspired to keep reaching higher.