May 23, 2024

By Matt Crosby

Macy Hajek, a Lumen Christi missionary in the Dell Rapids area, has followed a path that many other Catholics follow. It was a path that has helped her deepen her faith, change her way of living, and perhaps even helped her consider a different career choice.

Now, in her missionary work, she walks with others on the same path—the Pathway of Discipleship.

Seeing her own path

Macy was introduced to the Pathway of Discipleship as part of her training for the Lumen Christi summer program in 2021. She is now a year-round missionary working with her teammate, Clare Dvoracek, in the Dell Rapids St. Mary Catholic Schools during the week and hosting outreach activities in area parishes at other times.

The majority of their service takes place through mentorship, Bible studies and events. Macy says the opportunity to participate in one-on-one mentoring with junior high/high school girls and witnessing their growth is among the most rewarding aspects of work as a Lumen Christi missionary.

“It’s such a tangible example of God working,” Macy said.

Knowing the various stages of the Pathway of Discipleship has given her a better understanding of her own faith formation. She can see more clearly how she moved from stage to stage.

“For the longest time, I think it was just kind of happening, and I didn’t really know it was happening,” she said. And that understanding led Macy to realize that for a significant amount of time, she would describe herself in the curiosity/openness stage.

“I was, in a way, open to following it, but I was not necessarily living it out and actually making changes in my life to pursue a relationship with Christ,” she said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Macy was spending more time at home, she began to place a greater priority on her faith life.

“I moved more into what we would call the seeking and the decision point, where I am no longer just receiving information, but I am putting it into practice in my life,” she said, “and deciding for myself to seek Christ first and make the decision to follow him.”

At that point, she noticed a more rapid spiritual progression, moving to the stages of discipleship. For Macy, this desire for growth includes turning away from sin and instead pursuing activities such as retreats and Bible studies.

“After learning about the pathway, I’d say the biggest impact it’s had is being able to see more clearly the way God has been working and guiding me deeper into relationship with him,” Macy said. “It provided a language to the stages I’ve gone through in becoming a follower of Christ.”

As a missionary, her movement along the pathway includes a sacrifice of time and other priorities in order to pursue Christ, eventually sharing Christ with those around her, and teaching others how to share Christ.

Encounters on the path

When it comes to living out her faith, the pathway has changed the way Macy encounters people.

“Depending on where they may be in their journey can help determine what to share with them that would be most helpful, like a personal story or more teaching about the Church,” she said. “Also, it’s allowed me to love people better for where they are.”

Macy (back right) spends a fun day with a group of kids during Lumen Christi summer missionary work in the diocese.

As for her Lumen Christi missionary work, the Pathway of Discipleship is a helpful model to determine where students are in their faith journey and process, and how the missionaries can help the students. Collaborations with students have incorporated knowledge of the pathway but with a less formal approach.

“One of the girls I am discipling, she has moved through the different thresholds and pathways, but it wasn’t something we necessarily talked about,” Macy said.

New paths

While striving to live the faith in all aspects, access to the Pathway of Discipleship and additional discernment have also influenced Macy’s career path. She plans to study psychology when she returns to college this fall for the start of her junior year and hopes to earn a master’s degree in order to pursue a career in Catholic counseling.

“Through missionary work and getting to work one-on-one with students was kind of where I discovered I really like that, and switching to psychology is where I’m headed,” she said.