Take the Risk - A Letter from Helen Kelly
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I hail from a little town in Northern Virginia, but I am currently living and working in Dublin, Ireland. It wasn't an easy move for me. There were so many times when I wanted to turn away and stay in the life that I knew. I just graduated college, I could have spent my six month grace period searching for opportunities that pertained to the career I wanted. But I am so glad that I chose to follow God's plans instead of my own.
An especially hard time for me was while I was packing up to go home before graduation. My parents wanted me ready to go right after graduation, and no one was offering to help. In the meantime, I had work, finals, last goodbyes and graduation practices to attend on top of packing this house that I had lived in for a year. I don't normally cry easily, but there were many tears shed that week. I felt so alone, so vulnerable and so incapable. (Page 2) I couldn't see how a tiny little summer was going to prepare me for what was seeming to me at that point to be a mammoth of a trip.
During my preparation over the summer, I happened upon a story in the Bible that gave me great comfort in my seemingly impossible journey: the story of Esther. Just like me, she was asked to do something incredibly terrifying to her. She spent the entire night in prayer before approaching her king. From that, she gained immense courage and was able to stand in front of the King, "radiant with perfect beauty, and she looked happy," even though she was completely frozen with fear (Esther 15:6; NAB D:5). She gave herself to God and His mission and He supplied her with the necessary grace to complete her mission.
"(Esther) gave herself to God and His mission and He supplied her with the necessary grace to complete her mission."
This story gave me so much strength to continue in what I was doing. I realized that as a woman I am called to be brave and trust completely in God. The reward is greater than you can ever imagine. Constantly giving this mission to God has given me so much freedom and many wonderful new friendships. My dear sisters, bravery is not something you can achieve by thinking. You must act! Every day, you have an opportunity to rise above your fears, whether small or large. Remember that you will always have fear, but how you respond to it is your choice. Will you take that opportunity to grow closer in your relationship with your creator?
My dear sisters, I love each of you so much! Please pray for me as I continue my epic adventure! I will be praying for you.
Get to know Helen
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My full name is Martina Helen Fiona Colette Catherine Gabriel Genisius (confirmation) Mary Kelly. My father wanted a lot of saints to watch over his children, so we were given at least 5 middle names each. I am a 23 year old Franciscan University grad(drama major) who's currently working for the pro life cause in Ireland. I absolutely LOVE adventures, especially if they include going to foreign countries and trying food I've never had before. The Disney princess I relate to most is Rapunzel. Anyone who knows me well enough could tell you I'm just about the weirdest person they know.
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
I can't survive missing two days of Mass a week. I feel drained and hollow. I can't really describe why, but I know the day will be really terrible if I choose not to attend Mass.
From one Catholic woman to another, how have you discovered your sense of belonging in the Church?
At one point in my college career, I just decided to take risks. It started off as small ones, like telling a person I was uncomfortable with the way they were treating me, then eventually it led to amazing things like challenging myself to attending daily Mass whilst being a senior doing her thesis, working, directing a one act play as well as being a lead role in a movie and a small role in the University full length play all in the same semester. As exhausting as it was (and there were some moments that I did not find it advantageous to continue), this whole process has taken me more and more out of my shell, made me love myself more and rely on God more. I encourage everyone who feels out of touch with their faith to just try going to daily Mass! It's a long process, but it's worth it.
What’s the most empowering piece of advice you’ve been given as a Catholic woman?
“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde
Tell us about a woman who inspires you. What lessons have you learned from her? How has she influenced your life?
A few women (friends as well as a professor) in the drama department at my university throughout my college years continuously encouraged me, loved me and raised me up when I needed it. They always coached me to take risks. There is one young woman in particular, Lisette, that I always strive to be like. Even when she had graduated and even though now we're an ocean apart, I constantly discover new ways I imitate her, in physical gestures as well as attitude. She is very kind and treats everyone with equal respect. Now she has a very beautiful family who she absolutely adores and I know she is very loving and faithful to.
What aspect of your life right now do you find the most beautiful? The most challenging?
The most beautiful aspect of my life is how perfectly life came together when I chose to trust. My most fearful moment was when I had jumped. When I was caught, not only did I land softly, but I was also graciously showered with many gifts and graces. The best gifts have been the people I've been introduced to. All of my friends who I've only known the past year, I sometimes have to remind myself that I haven't known them my entire life. The most challenging aspect is being on my own at the end of the day.
What virtue do you find yourself valuing most right now?
Goodwill towards myself and others. My entire life, I have always looked at whatever anyone else has that's great and immediately envy them for it. I've always believed the lie that I'm not enough because I didn't have a perfect family or the perfect outfits or lacked relationships. Obviously, there are still many moments when I experience this. I want to run as far away from that as I can by striving towards kindness to others and being grateful for the amazing gifts I do have.
What’s the best smell in the world to you?
Fresh baked goods. Really any kind.
Fill in the blank
A typical day in my life looks like…
force myself to get up after snoozing the alarm 3 or 11 times, quick prayers, get ready, and go to Mass (either in the morning or afternoon) and then go to work. Depending on the day, I almost always have something going on after work whether it's a prayer group or volunteering to go out to the streets and hand out pro-life literature. At some points throughout the day, I somehow find time to eat and then at the end of the day I try to clean up a little bit and then crash on my lovely bed.
My favorite quote is...
"Compare where you are to where you want to be and you'll get nowhere.” Sarah Barellis
I feel most inspired when…
I feel most inspired when: I've had coffee. Or when I'm in adoration.