Missionary priest calls students on to a bigger life


“Do you want a big life or a small life?” asked the Rev. Michael Shields, IPFI, on Monday, Feb. 13, of Franciscan University students who gathered to hear the missionary priest speak.

This was the major question posed by Shields to students gathered in the International Lounge, as he shared his passion for service and spoke on how to find the glory of mission. Shields has been serving as a missionary in eastern Russia, ever since he received his call to serve in Magadan, Russia in the 1990s .

Photo by Ulises Iniguez

Shields said the love of Christ leads to mission.

“If you want a big life, love Christ,” said Shields. “If you want a small life, love yourself.”

Mission requires a complete abandonment to God and his will, said Shields. It requires answering the call to accept God’s glory and his full weight.

Shields said this complete abandonment requires joy in God. Without joy, mission is impossible, but with joy it is possible to serve something other than personal desires, he explained.

For Shields, the glory of mission follows the model of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. Shields opened with de Foucauld’s prayer of surrender, which he said is a difficult prayer because it requires a total surrender to God’s will.

Shields said that mission is not about the results, but about doing the will of God in answer to his glory. Shields gave the prophet Isaiah as an example, who knew that he would not be successful on mission but still joyfully accepted his call.

“It’s going to cost you, but what’s the reward?” said Shields. “You’re going to be blessed.”

Shields said that God blesses those on mission not for their own sake, but for the sake of others. Jesus was a man on mission who gave up his own glory for the sake of others, said Shields.

“When your heart really gives in to generosity, what are the limits? There are none,” said Shields. “You can change the world. You can save souls … the impact is eternal.”

Shields said, “God wants you to have a big life. God wants you to have a full life.”

Junior Rachel Blanchard said that she enjoyed Shields’ wisdom and appreciated his humility.

Sophomore Maggie Giroux said she appreciated the challenge Shields offered them.

“He called us to more than mediocrity in daily life,” said Giroux. “Yes, we can go on mission, but we can be on mission where we’re at as well.”

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