June 21, 2024

By Emily Leedom

Emily Leedom, executive director of Catholic Family Services

At the start of 2020, when newly appointed Bishop DeGrood shared that he had been discerning a vision for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, it felt like a rallying cry to gather the troops. As that vision rolled out, Catholics throughout eastern South Dakota began discerning for themselves, their families, their parishes and their communities how they might enter more deeply into lifelong missionary discipleship, rooted in the love of God.

As I pondered this vision, I found myself asking questions. What keeps people from being lifelong Catholic missionary disciples? What are those challenges that keep us from being who God truly created us to be? What keeps us from being a bridge for other people to encounter the love of God?

I called to mind my uncle who never found peace after the loss of his brother in the 1960s. I thought of the many people in my life who have battled the immense challenges of addiction, or the endless stream of people on my social media feed sharing about how anxious they constantly feel.

I thought of the parents who ached over the choices their child was making. I thought of the couple who sat before me feeling so lost in their marriage and unsure where to turn.

I remembered the priest who felt weary, the young man stuck in shame hiding his browser history, the couple longing for a child, the overwhelmed mom, the lonely grandfather, the angry teenager, the absent father.

I suppose the answer to my questions began to crystalize. The problem is the wounded heart.

Whether wounds of our own choosing related to our sin or wounds from matters far beyond our control in the fallen world we find ourselves in, they can often keep us from the profound freedom of walking joyfully with the Lord.

These wounds keep us from flourishing by stifling the gift of our virtue, distracting us from our vocations, robbing us of the conviction that we have been redeemed, and whispering lies about our god-given identity as sons and daughters of the Most High King.

The great challenge of our wounds is that we often wear them like a pair of glasses through which we see the world. They distort reality and keep us from seeing the truth. As persons living on this planet, we have all experienced this to some degree or another as part of the wound of our fallen humanity.

Here at Catholic Family Services, we are working the battlefield by tending to wounded hearts so our vision might be continuously restored. Through the healing power of this restored vision, we can experience the freedom of journeying on the road as disciples, eager to share the love of God we have received and invite others to come alongside us.

Whether in one-on-one counseling, group work, retreats, education, podcasts, formation programs or parish support, Catholic Family Services aims to integrate the best of the psychological sciences with a Catholic vision of the human person in the service of human flourishing.

The promise is certainly not a life without struggle or suffering, but rather an integrated humanity in which grace can freely build on our nature.

Tending to our own humanity is not for the faint of heart. It is not easy and it is often not pleasant, but it is good. Choosing growth is a remarkable act of heroism in a world of complacency.

Catholic Family Services is honored to support disciples across their lifespan in their pursuit of authentic flourishing so we might all respond fully to the call to be Lifelong Catholic Missionary Disciples Through God’s Love.