When I came to St. Norbert as a freshman, I didn’t have a specific career direction or focus. I loved to learn and was interested in many things, and each time I took a class, the subject matter became a new passion – history, psychology, geology. I had been interested in ministry during high school, having been heavily involved in my church, community service, and youth group, but had never really thought about pursuing “church work” as a career.
After arriving on campus, I was quick to become involved in areas of ministry on campus – going on and leading Campus Ministry retreats, getting involved in the Sunday evening student liturgies, going to events through the Peace and Justice Center, becoming an intern through the Program of Faith, Learning, and Vocation. These opportunities, coupled with Religious Studies professors who opened the world of theology to me – something I had never studied on an academic level or thought could be practical in an every-day way – helped me to realize that not only was full-time ministry a possible career path for me, but was something I was passionate about and felt deeply called to pursue.
My deepest sense of calling emerged out of a realization that, more than anything else I was studying or doing in my life, it was matters of faith that always caught my heart; it was something I couldn’t not care about. Whether I was wrestling with my own questions of faith, or talking with friends or floor-mates deep into the night about the “more” of life, or helping junior high students clarify their beliefs as I taught religious education classes, being in relationship with others on a journey of faith became my deepest joy and gave me a sense of fulfillment that I did not experience in other aspects of my life.
When I first left St. Norbert, I worked with high school students as a parish Youth Minister, leading retreats, service trips, social events, and opportunities for faith exploration. I now work in a collegiate setting doing much of the same work of creating the environments and opportunities in which students can explore their faith and beliefs, work to create a more just world, and assume faith-based, leadership roles. It is my greatest joy to walk with students through their experience of life, and to help them examine it through a lens of faith – asking, “Where is God in my life, what do I believe, what are my gifts and where am I being called to serve God and serve the world?” I see my work as vocational not because I work in a religious setting or carry a title of “minister,” but because when I am able to journey with others through questions of faith and calling, I know that I am in the place where I feel most alive and able to serve.
Ann Hillman '04