“I am not intimated by the secular world. I feel comfortable bringing God to people who need Him, but don’t realize they need God. The human heart is hungry for God, no matter what they say.”
This California girl is not your stereotypical surfer or beach comber. While appearing delicate and feminine, Mary Smith is the first to bait her hook with fresh shrimp at the hope of luring a large fish and she is the first to get her hands dirty by catching and admiring one of nature’s critters. But her passion is not for creatures of the sea or land, but for the human person. She has the heart of a missionary. What does Jesus see in the heart of his missionary? A passion to help many souls who hunger and thirst for God.
Mary Smith grew up in a strong Catholic family of nine children. Her schooling from grade school through junior year in San Diego State University immersed her in the secular world. Convicted of the beauty of her Catholic faith she was also comfortable engaging with people who did not know Jesus. Actually, she seemed to thrive on the opportunity to find ways to draw people nearer to God.
Shortly after consecrating her life to God on September 1, 1994, she was sent by her superiors to Hungary. Hungary had recently shed its communist ties. The Hungarians’ faith was just beginning to awaken. She recalls her experience,
“I arrived five years after the fall of communism. I experienced the consequences of this on the people—on their faith life, on their sense of initiative, on their sense of dignity. All of this was kind of squelched during communism. In the US, a free country, sharing one’s faith is more permissible. But in Hungary, evangelization was uncommon and unknown. But the human heart longs for something more—love, happiness, and ultimately God. When you would just help them to grow as a person that satiated something inside of them and sometimes, it opened the door to talk about Jesus.”
Mary discovered the value of her life consecrated to God, as well as the charism alive in her heart as she began to accompany people in their faith journey. But the treasure of those first missionary years was the precious bond with Jesus that was forged in the midst of completely new surroundings, a strange and difficult language and a foreign culture. Jesus became the secure center of her life. =She recalls that time of intimacy. “Jesus knew my language and I knew his.”
From Hungary she moved to the Midwest where she continued serving with the Regnum Christi missionary spirit, accompanying young girls and women in the spiritual life and inviting them to participate in Christ’s mission in the Church. Since 2009 Mary has been stationed in Washington DC, working in Women’s ministry. She is not afraid to create new initiatives that respond relevantly to the interests and needs of the people she serves. She loves forming and engaging the Christian apostle.
Jodi Long is one of those women who met Mary in 2016, “Being very new to the faith and never really being active in a religious setting of any sort, her presence next to me at each meeting was like a true gift from God. Her kindness, joyful spirit, and her amazing instincts in sensing my newfound hunger and thirst, gave me such comfort and even confidence in knowing, I was on the right path.” As their relationship blossomed, Jodi asked Mary to sponsor her into the Catholic Faith
“I’ve come to realize that just as Jesus personally accompanied and formed His own disciples, this is also at the heart of who a Consecrated Woman is to me – a spiritual mother that encounters, forms and accompanies others by meeting us where we are and embracing us.”
While Mary will say that the evangelizing work is the same for all Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, God makes the most of the gifts and personal charisms of each one. Her ease with people, no matter where they are in their faith journey, opens the door to manifesting God’s love to them.
“I love helping people who don’t know Jesus, encounter Him. I am also sensitive to human suffering. If the person is open, I am happy to bring Jesus into it whatever situation they are in. For me, it is also an encounter with God in them. I experience Jesus in others, particularly in old people, poor and homeless people, anyone who needs God.”