Whim leads to spiritual lessons
The "One Bread, One Cup" Liturgical Leadership Conference brought Gillian Karhoff-Schumaker of Ottawa, OH, to Saint Meinrad for the first time in 2012. At the time, she was a sophomore at Bowling Green State University and she had heard about the program from friends who attended "One Bread, One Cup" as high school participants. Gillian applied for the College Ministerial Internship on a whim, but never thought she would get the job. Coming to Saint Meinrad for the interview was her first experience on the Hill.
"I was nervous, but mostly I felt like I had no idea what I was getting into," says Gillian. "I had never been to a monastery, never been to 'One Bread, One Cup' and never had talked to a monk. But God knew what He was doing. No matter how unworthy I felt, I found God had a way of making me worthy."
When she arrived at Saint Meinrad, Gillian was in awe of the beauty of the people and place. She felt a sense of community she had never experienced anywhere else.
"Those who welcomed me as Christ as soon as I arrived inspired me to do the same in my daily life on and off the Hill," explains Gillian.
Gillian was hired for the internship in 2012 and again in 2013. During the six-week program, Gillian and 19 other interns lived in an intentional community. Together, they prayed, studied the Bible, went to Mass, engaged in theological reflection, received formation and learned to be the best role models for the youth.
As she learned more about Saint Meinrad and the Benedictine values, Gillian found she was naturally receptive to the spiritually of St. Benedict. That formation shaped her experience as an intern and in her everyday life. It also prepared her for the challenges she faces this year as a senior at Bowling Green State University and as she prepares to study mental health counseling in graduate school next year.
"I was challenged to a deeper intimacy with God, and one that didn't rely on feel-good emotions or rock music," she says.
This summer, Gillian experienced the loss of two good friends who both had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease she also has.
"I was shaken, angry, scared, but supported and loved by the intern community through it all," she explains. "That experience for me was a true witness to Christ's love and the embodiment of it in His people at Saint Meinrad,"
Saint Meinrad has become home to Gillian. It is a place where she feels at peace, where she can find the greatest focus and balance in her life.
"There's a certain sense that I get when I arrive on the Hill that just welcomes the soul," she says. "Perhaps one of the most attractive parts of Saint Meinrad is that the presence of Christ here is shown in action and through a most gentle love."