The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them! (Isaiah 50:4-6)

A Little about Me…

I am a devoted black Catholic from the Crescent city! About 4 years ago, I moved to South Bend for a job at Notre Dame. Before this, I received my bachelors from Loyola University of New Orleans in Mass communications. My studies were then followed by two years of service work with Americorps, as a City Year corps member and an in-house academic success coordinator at Boys Hope Girls Hope. I then worked in Loyola’s Mission and Ministry department as their graduate student intern while working toward her master’s in pastoral counseling from Loyola’s Institute of Ministry. I have always had a passion for serving even outside of my work. In fact, .Serving others is core part of her life, and I spent a large part of the past 12 years of my life volunteering my summers at Camp Challenge, a camp for children with cancer and sickle cell, and Camp Pelican, a camp for children with asthma and cystic fibrosis as the director of activities. My love of service continues as a mentor to youth at Transformation Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.

What job brought me from down south to South Bend? I moved from New Orleans, Louisiana to south bend to work in the Campus Ministry department at Notre Dame. I spent the last three years in South Bend as the Assistant Director of Evangelization in Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry department. It is through my work in Campus Ministry that I dove into the Holy Cross mission and found a passion for serving the students of Notre Dame, but my life changed yet again this past summer. 

Last summer, I went on a trip to Africa with the Notre Dame folk choir where I co-lead the community in a guided pilgrimage aimed to discover God through seeing our trip as the road to Emmaus. It not only allowed my students to see God in new ways, but it awakened something in me as well. I minister best by building community, walking beside others each day, and preaching to help them see where and how God may be moving in their life in new ways. This confirmed my passion for continuing education in ministry. Now, I plan to get my doctorate in Preaching. In fact, I plan to spend my summer filling out applications. It was quite a large pivot to move from Campus Ministry to the rector position, but I knew it would be the best use of the skills and gifts God gave me to share Christ’s love with the world. My next pivot will be the further my walk with God even more.

My Goal for this Retreat

My goal is to address the  question that sits on my heart now is, “where to next?” It has been a rocky year to say the least, and the path the once felt so certain is now blurred. I, now, seek for God’s guidance to find out where he is now calling me to. What graduate program should I be seeking? Is that still what God wants for me? Should I instead be pursuing religious life or another path? 

I have a passion for ministry, but I feel particularly called to the aspect of preaching. As a woman of color  in the church, I was raised within a very eurocentric perspective of God. Though we spoke of a universal church, I rarely if ever saw it lived out. In a variety of youth conferences and retreats, I searched for a God that not only knew my heart but spoke to the struggles outside the white majority. I wanted to hear someone speak about how God was moving through my cultural and feminine experience. 

Particularly in the current political state, I feel called to speak. There are still young black children growing up this church who are seeking for a face and a cultural experience that matches their own. They want to know how their God is moving and working in what seems like a desolate time.

The black community is clearly suffering. We now hear of a justice system called to reform, and a God of justice that is trying to work in the hearts of many whose hearts are hardened to change. As a black minister, I want to be a vessel for the Spirit alive and active in the world today. I have always admired how Dr. King used the scripture to transform the world around him, and I want to do the same. For Dr. King, the call of Jesus was not merely words on a page but a daily call to action. Truly living the gospel in radical ways called him to lead in difficult times that resulted in beatings, jail time, death, and eventually political change. I too hope to be a force for change. I truly believe that Christinaty does not call us to comfort. It calls us to the truth. If we are truly all one body, then the pain of one community should be the concern of each and every member of the church community.In the wake of the death of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmed Aubrey, and SO MANY others we need a voice of challenge and one of hope. I think I could be a person to do that. I could aid in bringing light to the darkness and in pushing our church to truly be a reflection of Gods love on earth even when it challenges us to look at where we have failed to truly live as brothers and sisters in Christ.

12 thoughts on “The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them! (Isaiah 50:4-6)

  1. Kayla, what an honor to read your words and feel the heat of your Spirit’s Fire. The world needs you, the church needs you right now in this very moment.

  2. Kayla, You bring such an important perspective to our common work that is also deeply personal. May the Church and the world receive such tongues of fire and enSpirited breath that every voice declaring the wondrous works of God may be heard and understood.

  3. Thank you for your words. I cannot find the words to speak to address the pain in our African-American brothers and sisters. It hurts my heart. Glad that you are here journeying with us. May you find a supportive community to help you stoke your passion and mission! Blessings.

  4. This is a wonderful post. I agree that as Christians we are not called to comfort. Thank you for your words.

  5. Amen! You are indeed gifted to preach. I’ve been recently convicted about the necessity of “de-colonizing” our faith, so I look forward to learning from your preaching on this urgent topic.

  6. Dear Kayla, thank you for sharing your story of service and the evolving call to ministry. It is very compelling to me to hear about your unfolding discovery of your gifts – presence, creating community, accompaniment, and now to preach, using the scripture to challenge and to nurture. Your invoking Dr. King’s use of the scripture to transform made me think of his vision for Christians articulated in the letter from a Birmingham jail…of a church that like the early church, is not whitely moderate in the face of injustice but a “thermostat, changing the mores of society…”

    I would like to know more about the pivot from campus ministry to the rector position, and about how the discernment of a possible call to religious life relates to your search for the right environment in which to pursue your doctorate in preaching. At a time when we are isolated from each other and many environments for transformation and encounter are limited in the numbers of people who can gather…and when the church continues to suffer from a eurocentric outlook, what are some venues that you have thought to raise your voice and preach? Have you preached online at all?

    Look forward to talking and learning more together – – –

  7. Kayla,

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart in this space. As I read your brief biography, I sense you have a certain level of clarity. You are able to articulate that at your best, you are a minister that “walks beside others each day” and that preaching is a primary call. What did it feel like to preach when you were on the pilgrimage last summer with ND students? Did anything surprise you about the experience, or confirm something in you?

    I honor that you articulate the Black community is suffering, and has suffered for generations through the legacies of slavery, racism, and white supremacist ideology. It is definitely a “soul sickness,” as Bryan Massingale describes racism. I sense that God is equipping and calling you to continue to be a powerful voice for truth.

    When you wrote about your call to preaching, you mentioned that you wanted to see your cultural and feminines realities reflected in preaching and in church. Are there times where you have experienced that reflection and celebration, whether inside a formal church or not? inside or beyond the institutional catholic church setting? If you could envision a different way of church, where do you picture yourself?

    I look forward to humbling praying with and learning alongside you.

  8. Pumped that you’re doing this! And that you’re using your gifts of accompaniment and preaching. Did I tell you that one of my Moreau students played your sermon on MLK Day to our class as part of her presentation? You move people. From the introductory invitational assignments, I’ve listened to Dr. Fatimah Salleh’s sermon twice now, and it makes me only want to hear black women preach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMG4TAP2PbM

  9. Also, the artwork of the Passion you have here is so important and poignant. I’ve been reflecting on George falling a third time before his death, and thinking that this is the stations of the cross we are all being invited to walk.

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