“Don’t strive for perfection; 

you will always be disappointed. 

Strive for the Spirit; 

She’s always present.”

~ Michael Duffy, OFM

My first few days of being the new FVM Program Director were a whirlwind. I began two weeks before the incoming Class of FVMs was to arrive. Two people decided they would not be joining us as expected. One person applied (my first ever interview!) and was accepted. Needless to say, I was feeling quite a bit stressed and flustered with all that was happening. So much was in flux! Thankfully, Orientation Retreat had already been planned by our wonderful Program Director who preceded me. 

Into that storm of emotions and activity, Michael Duffy, OFM offered the wisdom above: “Don’t strive for perfection; you will always be disappointed. Strive for the Spirit; She’s always present.” His words changed everything for me, calming my heart and mind. I remembered that God is with us in all that hustle and bustle, in all the known and unknown. Recognizing those things, I then recognized that I was feeling far more than stress and anxiety. I was excited and hopeful, and filled with anticipation of what was to come. I felt that I was where God wanted me to be and that God had and would put the call of FVM in other hearts, too. 

That day, I wrote down Michael’s words and put them on my office wall, where they remain. While I still need to be reminded sometimes, Michael’s wisdom is also deeply ingrained in my heart, for which I am immensely grateful.

“How do you go from being a complete stranger, a young man from a rural hillside village to being loved and welcomed into this great community?” I was continually beside myself at the simple ways I saw others living and loving, how they cared for each other or faced adversity together, and even experiencing the hospitality (and home cooking or potluck meals!) of parishioners. Along with that, I was so very grateful to have shared in life together with my community members; to share in meals, prayer, and fun together, to experience each other’s joys and sorrows, and to grow together as good friends. I daresay my year was a “transformative” one that opened up a whole new world of possibilities, and I do not doubt that I would not be who I am or where I am today if not for my time as an FVM, where I was able to begin breaking down my walls and learned to better love and live outside of my comfort zone in an incredible community of love.

Katie Sullivan, Executive Director, FVM Philly 1995-1997