A Friday in the life of a missionary

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October 19, 2013 by Alex Johannigman

Ever since I arrived in Denver, I’ve gotten a lot of requests from friends to “keep me updated” or “let me know how things are going.” There seems to be a lot of interest in learning about what it is exactly that I do, especially from close friends. So for the past month or so, I’ve been wanting to show what a typical week in my life looks like in my blog. But in the past month, there has always been a number of things going on each week that make it rather atypical. I told myself to wait until I got to a week that resembled a “normal” week in the life of a Christ in the City missionary, and then I could write about that week.

It’s now the second half of October, and that “typical” week still hasn’t come. I’m honestly not sure it’s going to. I’m becoming convinced that there is no such thing as a typical day, much less a typical week in the life of a missionary. So I’m just going to go for it and write a 7-part series about what a typical week looks like in my life. Hopefully it will be interesting for you to read about what I’m doing on a day to day basis.

5:40am– Wake up. Fridays are typically a “sleep in” day for us, since our first activity is morning prayer at 7:30. I’m sure no one would be surprised to hear that I’ve joined a men’s group at a local parish (Holy Ghost) that meets at 6:00 on Friday mornings. Free time makes me uncomfortable, so I filled it up with an opportunity to learn more about my faith and get to meet some older men from the Denver area. I was invited to the group about a month ago by another Knight in my Knights of Columbus Council.

After waking up, I put on about 3 layers of jackets and walk through the snow to Holy Ghost.

6:00am– Arrive at Holy Ghost. I eat breakfast with the other guys and we listen to the priest’s talk about the differences between Protestants and Catholics as a continuation of their series on apologetics which started before I joined the group. This week we talked about the Eucharist for a bit, and spend a lot of time discussing Mary.

7:30am– I return to the Seton House for morning prayer in our chapel.

7:45am– Prepare breakfast. The missionaries rotate chores each week, and I’m on the cooking team this week. We’re feeling kind of lazy this morning, so it consists of putting cereal on the table and reheating the french toast casserole leftovers from the meal I cooked the previous morning.

8:15am– Breakfast!

9:00am- Intellectual formation. Every Friday we take a class for 3 hours. It’s like I never left grad school. Brian Shannon, a part of the Sodalit community that we do a lot of things with, is teaching a class on Christian Anthropology. This week we finish up our discussion on sin and spend the bulk of the class talking about Christ’s redemption.

I got a little excited about the snow

I got a little excited about the snow

12:00pm- Lunch time! We have a huge stash of frozen pizzas that we got donated, so Joe decides that we’re going to just heat those up for lunch. Usually we don’t cook lunch because everyone is out working in their respective ministries all over the city, but on Fridays we usually make something simple for lunch.

1:00pm– Free time. I spend the next several hours playing Pokemon X in my room and just hanging out with other missionaries. Tony invites me outside to make a giant snow boulder that we throw off the 3rd floor balcony outside our rooms. I also spent part of my free time on the phone with one of my old co-workers at Capital One helping to solve a problem he was having. Mostly it was good to catch up with him, even if it involved a little bit of picking my brain to see what I can remember.

Prayer: A critical part of every missionary's day. Without a good interior prayer life, we wouldn't be able to do the work we do.

Prayer: A critical part of every missionary’s day. Without a good interior prayer life, we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do.

3:30pm– Usually we have adoration, confession, and mass at the chapel in the Seton House, but this week we drive to Holy Name for all of the above. We load up the cars and drive through some fun, exciting Denver rush hour traffic to meet up with Father Daniel at his parish.

4:15pm– Start adoration and confession at Holy Name.

5:00pm– Daily mass in the same chapel where we just adored Christ in the Eucharist.

5:30pm– Mass ends and we move over to the activity center to help them set up for Octoberfeast, an annual tradition at Holy Name which is part of the conclusion to their mission week. Earlier in the week I came to Holy Name for another part of mission week, the men’s trivia night. Octoberfeast is open to all young adults and includes home brewed beer, brats, mac and cheese, and some really, really cold weather. No amount of apple cider, spicy mustard on my brat, or jalapenos on my nachos are able to keep me feeling even remotely warm this night with the temperature dropping below freezing, but all of the activities are still taking place outdoors. This Texan considers this sort of behavior to be complete madness, but there isn’t much I can do about it aside from grab another beer and hope it will help numb the pain.

9:30pm– Enough people get tired of freezing our fingers and toes off and I decide to drive a car full of missionaries back to the Seton House. By the time I get home, I am more than happy to just collapse in my bed.

The adventures continue on Saturday.

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