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Amelia Brennan

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Franciscan Faces

Amelia Brennan

Being "Radically Interruptible" for God

Winter 2023 | Maura Roan McKeegan

In This Article

When she graduated from high school in New Hampshire, Amelia Brennan had all her plans set. She would attend a women’s college in the Midwest, major in nursing, and become a NICU nurse. She had no idea all those plans were about to change. 

That summer, Amelia attended her fourth Steubenville East Youth Conference and, as part of the LEAD team, gave her testimony in front of 2,000 teens. The experience changed her life. 

“It was a taste of heaven,” she remembers. “I came back home and said, ‘Mom, I think I need to go to Franciscan University.’” With only a month to go, she switched schools. “It was the best decision I ever made.” 

She still entered her freshman year as a nursing major, but by second semester, that plan was changing, too. 

“I thought, no, this is not what I’m supposed to be doing,” Amelia recalls. Realizing her heart was in mission work, she switched her major to humanities and Catholic culture and began serving in the Missionary Outreach Office. She led retreats, went on a mission trip to Belize, and eventually was offered the job of organizing most of the University’s 20 annual mission trips as Missions of Peace coordinator. 

“The Lord was opening door after door,” she says. “This job has been the biggest gift. I’ve learned what it is to serve another person and to see Christ in the face of other people.” 

Working with students, Amelia has felt a particular call to reach out to those who don’t know Jesus personally, because she knows what that’s like. Growing up, she never felt like she really knew Jesus, until she encountered him through a priest during confession at a Youth Conference. Because of that experience, she is acutely aware that many people haven’t encountered him yet. 

“Just because we’re at Franciscan doesn’t mean everyone has had a personal encounter with Jesus,” she says. “I don’t want to overlook people who don’t have a community and are always in their rooms. Or who do have a community and it’s not a good community. Or who may never have been introduced to Jesus as a person.” 

Now a senior, Amelia still makes plans for her life, but she has gotten used to the idea that God might step in and change those plans. In fact, she expects her plans to be interrupted: In her work and in her life, she strives to be what she calls “radically interruptible”—meaning that, no matter what she is doing at any given moment, she is available and ready to drop everything if someone needs her. 

“Being so radically interruptible has changed the whole course of my days,” she says. “I’m so much more aware of who God is putting in my path.” 

Her dream, she says, is to continue doing mission work after she graduates. In serving others, Amelia has discovered the truth of something she learned in Gaudium et Spes—that when we give of ourselves, we find ourselves. 


Maura Roan McKeegan is the author of “Beloved Son: Joseph and Jesus” and other Catholic children’s books.

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