Annie Deters is a member of the PLT at Sacred Heart Parish in a small town called Sabetha in Kansas. Prior to attending the Amazing Parish Summit in Phoenix, Annie felt pressure to be a perfectionist at work. “I was driven by perfection and the need for affirmation at every step of the way.” Annie lived in the fear that if she failed to be perfect then she would not be needed anymore. She recognized that she was taking her job performance out of God’s hands and instead was relying on herself.
Annie felt the Phoenix Summit was timely and extremely relevant to the struggles she was experiencing. “From beginning to end it seemed like it was made exactly for what I needed,” she said.
The Summit’s profound impact on Annie began with Monsignor Shea’s talk on Monday night that centered around loving and embracing one’s own poverty. She was especially impacted by the idea that we are a Church for the poor that is run by the poor. Monsignor Shea’s insight that without an awareness of our poverty we live under the illusion that we don’t need God or faith resonated with Annie on a deep level. She realized her “poverty is special and it’s wonderful and it’s exactly what I need.” Annie was convicted to start leaning into her poverty and accepting it as a gift rather than running from it or trying to hide it from others.
Monsignor Shea’s message on poverty was personified for Annie during Fr. Jim Lee’s testimony. Fr. Lee struggles with ALS and had to be carried up on stage at the Summit. Despite his profound physical poverty, Fr. Jim Lee continues to lead his parish with spiritual excellence that comes from his reliance on God. Annie recognized that there is more strength and power behind Father Jim’s words precisely because of his deep, visible, physical poverty. Annie found his witness especially impactful because Fr. Jim’s physical poverty does not appear to be going away this side of heaven.
At the Summit, Annie came to the realization that she has been leading out of her wounds and this has had an effect on others. She was convicted that, “I am not my wound and it is not me.” Annie clearly heard God’s voice in her heart say “Why do you think you are supposed to be worthy? I am not asking you to be worthy. I am asking you to try and remember that you are beloved. I didn’t die for you because you deserve it. Stay at my feet.”
Annie believes the revelation that she needs to embrace her poverty will allow her to embrace the vulnerability-based trust required to build a healthy team. “I can see how the barrier of denying my own poverty – even if I can accept everyone else’s – can stand between us.” She continued by saying, “If I can’t ask for help, I am certainly not encouraging others to do so with my actions.” Annie exemplifies the humility and desire for growth required of all members of a Parish Leadership Team. It is a gift to see how the Holy Spirit’s movements in Annie’s own life are enabling her to lead with apostolic boldness. Her willingness to grow as a leader and as a follower of Christ will allow the culture of an Amazing Parish to spread in her circle of influence (the PLT), throughout the Parish as a whole, and by God’s grace, into the rest of the world.
Annie Deters, PLT Member and Director of Adult Faith Formation
Sacred Heart, St James, & St Augustine I Sabetha, KS