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An accidental Marianist

1:26 PM  May 18th, 2018
by Tom Columbus

An accidental Marianist

Lisa Rismiller, who works in the president’s office as secretary of the board of trustees, has called herself that. We asked her why.

I was born and raised in a town with no Catholic school.

My parish, where I attended Mass and less-than-inspirational catechism classes, didn’t feel welcoming and inclusive.

My high school sweetheart and I married in that same church where we’d grown up. We continued to attend Mass regularly; we dutifully raised our sons Catholic. But I never felt connected to the local parish. It felt like going through the motions.

And I started to realize — and resent — how sexism affected my life and career choices. A sense that women were sometimes treated as second-class citizens by the Catholic Church certainly didn’t help my connection to it.

Planning on a career in city management, I came to UD for a graduate degree. But an unforeseen opportunity arose — to be able work for then-president Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., while finishing my degree. Twenty-one years later, I’m still here.

Just as this Catholic, Marianist university forms students, it has formed me.

Here I’ve come to know, work with and learn from kind, compassionate, talented, hard-working and peace-loving Marianists — vowed and lay. Their world view, their passion for the Marianist charism and what it has to offer the world has seeped into my bones. I’ve learned how to “stay at the table” when the going gets rough, how to be a lifelong learner and how to give of myself in support of others.

My experience with Marianists, especially the immersive and ongoing formation as a Marianist Educational Associate, kept me not only at UD but also in the Catholic Church. I still struggle at times, but I’ve come to a place where the positives outweigh the challenges. I seek to be like some Catholic women I’ve come to know and admire; they’re challenged as I am but stay to be part of making the Church better for all.

I plan to stay, too, as I know walking with the Marianists will make me a better spouse, parent, colleague … a better human being. Call it a “happy
accident.”

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