Christ in the City: Bringing the Missionary Spirit into Your Home
An Interview with Yvonne O’Brien, Co-Founder of Christ in the City
How did Christ in the City come about and what was your role?
Divine Providence. I just returned from international mission work to pursue a Master’s degree at the Augustine Institute. My first teacher talked about this vision of an army of young people to serve the poor in Catholic tradition. After class, I asked if I could help since I had already done similar work abroad. He looked at me and said, “Create it.” So, we did with the help of some amazing people in the Archdiocese. My role was to envision, develop and implement this idea into a reality.
As a woman leader, what was your vision for this apostolate?
My vision was to create a charitable movement among young Catholics, who had a strong desire to serve the poor and receive solid Catholic formation, which could be replicated across the United States to bring about a Christian transformation of culture.
Why do you think women play a special role within CIC or outreach ministry in general? What is her impact in restoring a wounded culture?
In general, women have an incredible aptitude for compassion and empathy. In witnessing as female missionaries across the globe, women can often just BE with the person, listening. People at times just need to be heard and witness the loving gaze of Christ that is present in the eyes of the missionaries. Their ‘witness of presence’ can restore and heal so many wounded souls and be a sweet respite for life’s hardships.
Standing where you are today, what's the most critical advice you could give to a woman desiring to serve or be a missionary?
- Be Bold but Be Safe! It is imperative that we follow the inspirations of the Holy Spirit while also exercising common sense.
- Develop a rich interior life of prayer that allows us to discern God’s call from the mighty works to the small whispers.
- Frequent confession so your sins won’t get in the way of creating something beautiful for God.
- God uses your intellect to help you decide what He wants. Trust yourself and your judgement, but also be docile if it doesn’t go exactly according to plan.
- We are amid a spiritual battle where souls are at stake. Stay close to Mary and recognize that the devil does not want you to succeed. Succeed anyway!
How has mission work and leadership played a role in cultivating your own family? Why/how should a mindset of full-time ministry be ever present to a wife and mother?
As a leader of an organization, I dreamt big, set (yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly) goals and took care of the little details that nobody noticed. My husband and I still dream big and have quarterly and weekly family meetings to make sure we are staying on track. My sanctity still lies in accomplishing the little details of the day, that only Jesus knows about. We are all missionaries. You certainly do not need go to the farthest reaches of the earth to be one! My greatest mission thus far is to be a wife and mother. Our mission field is the home. The souls at stake are our family and those we encounter daily.
How would you encourage women in your state in life to live as missionaries?
- Create your home to be conducive to meeting the Lord in all you do. Have quotes or scripture verses present to remind you of the presence of God.
- Make a family prayer space prominent in the home that each family member contributes to in their own unique way.
- It is difficult to leave your home to serve, instead open your doors to family and friends so they can experience your witness of love and joy.
- If you can leave the home to serve, where is a safe and enjoyable place for your children to serve? It is okay to make it fun because they will want to do it again! You can start teaching them about suffering in an age appropriate way.
- Most importantly, recognize that everything you do can be a sweet offering to our Lord for the salvation of souls.
Yvonne O’Brien resides in Denver with her husband and daughter after serving internationally as a Catholic missionary. Upon returning to the US, she earned a Masters in Theology at the Augustine Institute and co- founded Christ in the City. She was a featured guest on EWTNs Life on the Rock and enjoys speaking to women on their vital role in transforming our culture.