Open Door Policy brings you the inspiring testimony of a young Catholic missionary serving in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Anna Picasso serves as a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionary at Wayne State University, and surrounding campuses. Anna shares her story of growing up Catholic, but falling away from the faith in high school. Intentional friendships during a semester-long trip to Rome in college led to a life-changing encounter with Jesus through returning to the Sacrament to Confession after 10 years. She now lives out intentional friendship through her ministry to college students. This episode addresses fears of returning to confession, and the power of Jesus’ example of friendship. Take a listen!
(0:02) Your co-hosts Emily Mentock and Fr. Patrick Gonyeau open this episode by inviting you to join this episode of Open Door Policy. Fr. Patrick shares how Lent is a time of special grace; Lent is life-giving. Emily shares that Lent is not so much about self-improvement, but about improving our relationship with God.
(3:47) Emily Mentock indroces this episode’s guest, Anna Picasso. Anna currently serves as a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionary at Wayne State University, and surrounding campuses. Here are three fun facts about Anna: Anna has stayed in Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati’s summer home. Anna’s favorite place in Detroit, besides her home parish Our Lady of the Rosary, is the Detroit Institutes of Arts (DIA). Anna is a blackbelt in TaeKwonDo.
(6:30) Anna grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as a Catholic. In high school, Anna fell away from her faith. Her faith became a practice of obligation to her parents. In college, Anna was left very broken and confused after some failed relationships. A trip to Rome opened her eyes to the beauty of Catholicism. Good friends were instrumental in Anna deciding to return to the Sacrament of Confession; this decision changed Anna’s faith… and her future.
(13:07) Emily comments that Anna’s story is a clear display of God pursuing Anna. So many details in Anna’s story lead her to encountering God’s grace in that life changing Confession- even which college she could afford to attend. Anna now tries to live that authentic friendship that changed her life.
(16:50) Authentic friendship: Jesus says, “I have called you friends.” FOCUS works to help students encounter Jesus through virtuous friendship with missionaries modeling the example Christ gave. Anna shares that virtuous friendship means “you’re fully given” and makes the point, “you have to earn the right to be heard.” This is born from time spent together. Investment in the people in our lives allows us to share Christ with them.
(26:10) A favorite Bible verse of Anna’s is: 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.”
(30:20) Confession is the topic of discussion. Anna shares about her experience of going to confession after ten years. “A pivotal moment in my life.” Anna shares that Confession is important because it reconciles us with the Father. The Holy Spirit put it on her heart and convinced her, “I have to go.” She experienced a resistance to speaking things she had never spoken before. Anna experienced God encountering her gently, even in her emotional response to “coming home,” finally returning to the Father’s embrace. Emily shares that when she is afraid to go to confession, that is when she asks God for the grace to want the Sacrament of Confession, “Lord help me.”
(38:55) Looking forward: Anna has dreams about the power of beauty. She wants to help people encounter God through beauty, especially in her local area of downtown Detroit. Fr. Patrick closes out the discussion about friendship by reminding us that God is a “lover of souls.” Each disciple has the mission of being a “lover of souls.” Through intentional friendship, we share Jesus and love the souls of the people around us.
(45:00) Anna closes the episode by inviting the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray. She prays for a new disposition of heart in friendship, “Father, they are your gift to me.”
Thanks for listening to Open Door Policy!