June Reflection from Maryanne Kraeger

My Vocation Story and the Call of the Laity // Kyle Poje

Maryanne Kraeger is a wife to Adam, mother to Edmund (4) and Annarose (2), and nurse to many! She is a medical-surgical nurse at St. Anthony’s Hospital. She resides in Gig Harbor, Washington and belongs to St. Nicholas Parish. Her hobbies include reading, painting, crafting, and photography. Her first pilgrimage was made to Our Lady of Lourdes last year and hopes to pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima in the future. Occasionally, she enjoys the daily routine of the kefir fermentation process for homemade probiotic. Also, Maryanne and her husband still recall and occasionally burst into their choreographed wedding dance when the music inspires.

I have been looking forward to hearing Kyle’s presentation for weeks! The current priesthood shortage is sadly apparent in our diocese with pastors shepherding two, sometimes three parishes at once. Daily I pray for more religious vocations, especially for my two children ages two and four. I was interested to learn about Kyle’s vocation story and how he was called to the priesthood.

Growing up as a cradle Catholic attending parochial school, my story involves a faith that went from varying degrees of lukewarm to being on fire with the Holy Spirit to giving God the cold shoulder. My distance from God was greatest when I sought the gratifications offered by the culture. Like Kyle, I, too, felt unhappy and hopeless during those times. Joining Mass Consumption, a Catholic young adult bible study in Tacoma, allowed my faith to mature from a weak sapling into a tree with a solid trunk and deep roots. The pivotal moment where Kyle struggled to believe God was affirming His love as his Father and speaking to his heart is something I have experienced as well. I think many can relate to Kyle’s comparison of his faith journey to a newborn baby resisting to open their eyes, “You kind of have to close your eyes because it’s just so bright right away… you are used to the darkness [of our culture]. But slowly you open your eyes more and more [to God’s love and presence].” Having your eyes wide open to His love can inspire you to make difficult sacrifices.

Kyle reminded me of my duty as a baptized Catholic to be a “common priest.” “...The heart of priestly identity is sacrifice… we all share in Christ’s common priesthood. We are [all] called to make sacrifice… or offering.” I’m embarrassed to admit until a few years ago, I did not understand the point of sacrifices. I felt prayer, attending mass, and fasting (when required) was enough to satisfy my Christian duties. My husband enlightened me by his faithful example and evangelization that offering sacrifices to God can bring us closer to Christ, suffering on the cross.

St. Therese of Lisieux also taught me about offering little sacrifices in each and every action to show my love for God. Her simple approach to sanctity inspires me to offer up simple sacrifices throughout my day like skipping creamer in my coffee, ending my shower with cold water, or leaving the gravel rock stuck in my shoe until the end of my walk. All these little things that I know will add up and bring joy to God.

Lastly Kyle brings up a hot topic in our Church today- evangelization! He requested Christians to preach Jesus Christ. The idea of preaching intimidates me, but Pope Francis inspires, “Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.” I also want to note there are other ways to evangelize besides public speaking.

The Offertory mission encourages us to share our stories with others to glorify Jesus and exemplify His Love, inspiring others to pick up their cross and follow Him. Like St. Therese offering up little sacrifices, talking with people intimately on a small level can have quite an impact on the various communities you participate in. I hope Kyle’s talk can inspire you to live out your vocation to the common priesthood by offering daily sacrifices to Jesus and evangelizing by sharing your personal faith-filled stories with those around you.