By Jessica Rosier, Director of the Barker Mansion
***This blog post reflects the view of the author, not Barker Mansion.***
I have a cartoon on my bulletin board. It reads: “The Secret of Time Management. It’s that magic 2-letter word: NO.” I clipped this illustration out a magazine a few years ago as a reminder to myself: don’t become so busy that you don’t have time for things you enjoy, and those which are most meaningful.
There are many things in life that are worth a yes, though. Many of the best yeses are organic. They start from a sincere interest, desire, or curiosity. Perhaps it’s an invitation from a friend or respected colleague. In whatever case, a sincere yes shouldn’t make a person stressed out or pause for a second-guess. It should feel right.
A year-long string of yeses has taken me on a wonderful journey. It started with an honor. I was asked to be a voting delegate in the Diocese of Gary’s first-ever historic synod, which took place in June 2017. Together with hundreds of other men and women across the region, we met to prayerfully discern and direct the future of the diocese regarding key issues such as social teaching, marriage and family, evangelization and more. The Spirit was truly present that day, and I was inspired to become more involved in parish life. The thought of pursuing a job in ministry crossed my mind, but I pushed it aside as I had a wonderful and stable career at the Barker Mansion – one that I had worked many years to obtain.
Later that month, another yes emerged. I had expressed to Father Kevin Huber at Queen of All Saints in Michigan City that I wanted to be more involved, and he asked me to serve in a volunteer role at the parish. He wanted help in coordinating the post-Mass activities in the new Legacy Center. My role would be called the Weekend Experience Coordinator. This played naturally into my professional skill set, so it was an easy yes.
Near the end of summer, Father asked me to serve on the Pastoral Council. I had been curious to know about the inner-workings of the church, so this was another easy yes.
I found myself spending more and more time at Queen of All Saints, and the Legacy Center really started to feel like home. My husband really grew to enjoy spending time there too, and became involved in various ministries on his own. Seeing parishioners and new guests socializing in the gathering space after Mass, enjoying coffee and donuts, writing cards to those in nursing homes, viewing an inspirational film, or creating a craft was really fulfilling. All through the year, that thought of pursing a job in ministry kept creeping into my mind. Each time, I would push it aside telling myself that I could easily balance work at the mansion with volunteer duties.
Also during this time, I felt a pull to deepen my own knowledge of Scripture. Through conversations with friends in South Bend, I came to know about the University of Notre Dame’s STEP (Satellite Theological Education Program). I dipped my toe into this program by saying yes to one class in January 2018. One class led to another, and so on. I was able to attend a powerful conference at Notre Dame in March 2018, Cultures of Formation. It was during this time that I knew I couldn’t keep pushing that ministry job thought aside. It was time for a big yes.
Back at Queen of All Saints, Father Kevin got to me first. He pulled me aside and asked about the possibility of me coming to work there. This moment was truly cultivated by the Spirit. There is no other explanation for the yeses throughout the last year, how organically things grew, and how right it felt. Early this summer, I will start as the first-ever Campus Experience Coordinator at Queen of All Saints. I will schedule usage of the church buildings and rooms, complete marketing, and continue to plan the Weekend Experience activities. This yes, however, means goodbye to the mansion.
I certainly never imagined leaving the mansion after only three years of work. I’ve played a role in transforming the mansion into a viable tourist attraction with diverse programming. Some favorite accomplishments would be redoing the lower level to include usable exhibit space, building a viable volunteer program and hiring dynamic staff, working to create a website and establishing an online presence, revamping our Christmas interpretation to be historically accurate, offering scout sleepovers, and more. I am so grateful for the supportive board, my interaction with the other City departments and Mayor Meer, and my ties to the Barker family during this time. It’s hard to swallow giving up a job in which the community is so supportive, and where we have such a great staff and volunteers. This has really been the best job I’ve ever had in that sense. I never want to seem ungrateful for that.
It’s really a bit difficult to articulate why I want to work in ministry. Father recently asked me why I feel called to this job, and I felt a bit tongue tied. It just feels right. It’s a good yes. A yes that grew organically.
Saying yes to this new job allows me to use the event planning, facility management, and interpretation experience I’ve gained in parks and museums and use them for another cause. This yes that allows me to use my strengths to help bring others closer to Jesus.
This yes brings another change. Being a part-time position, I will be able to visit my home state much more frequently to help care for my grandmother and spend time with family.
This yes, though, means goodbye.
Thank you to everyone who’s supported me through my three years at the mansion, especially our amazing board members. Please be assured that I will be active in the search for a new Director, and will assist in the training-in period.