Who’s in charge?

Blessed Virgin Mary with Jesus

Oh, I can just picture him, sitting across the table from me, doodling words and symbols on his notepad and with a playful glint in his eyes. I’m in a snit about one thing or another, indignantly raging about something gone wrong in my life, and looking for justification, direction, and rectification. My spiritual director smiles, sets his pen down, leans back in his chair, and looks me in the eye.

“Who’s in charge?” he asks with perfect calmness.

This isn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. I heave a deep sigh.

“She’s in charge,” I answer him back.

“Who’s in charge?” he asks me again.

I sigh even harder this time. “She’s in charge.” I answer back again.

“Who’s in charge?”

“She’s in charge.”

The round of question-sigh-answer repeats multiple times, until I’m almost to the end of my rope. “She’s in charge!” I loudly exclaim.

“Good,” Fr. Jonathan placidly responds. He sits forward, picks up his pen, and starts thoughtfully doodling again. “Now, where were we?” he asks with a huge, warm grin.

We’ve played this scene countless times over the past many years – in his meeting room, bumping into each other at events, and even via email once he’d been transferred to another location. Somewhere intertwined in our greeting and small talk would emerge, “Who’s in charge?” “She’s in charge.” My email messages would be pages long; Fr. Jonathan’s response might be anywhere from a paragraph to a page or so long, but somehow he’d manage to squeeze in, “Who’s in charge?”

This was Father’s masterful way of working with me, of helping me to live to the fullest the Covenant of Love I made long ago with our Blessed Mother through the Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt. When we make a covenant with someone, we surrender ourselves completely, permanently, to the other. On May 15, 1977, Mary and I surrendered to each other, and from that moment on, I’ve put her in charge of every aspect of my life. Fr. Jonathan knew this, and he also knew that the key to helping me get through anything was to remind me that I’d put our Blessed Mother in charge of everything and that she’d take perfect care with her powerful intercession, if only I’d take a breath once in a while and let her.

Crumbled apostolate? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge. Betrayed or defamed? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge. Health or financial hardships? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge. Uncertainty ahead? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge. Misunderstood by superiors or loved ones? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge.

Fr. Jonathan wasn’t trying to put off my concerns; in fact, he charitably validated them. The doodling always ended up to be some kind of little chart or diagram that would visually represent the situation and act as a reminder for me over the coming weeks. His goal was to get me to see that everything, everything that happens is in God’s plan and that, with Mary at the helm, my ship will sail unperturbed in even the most viciously turbulent waters. She is Queen of all, and she’ll be victorious over all.

He used this method also to remind me that, because of my covenant, my successes belong to our Blessed Mother, too.

New book published? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge. Nailed that presentation? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge. Tricky problem solved? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge? Discord mended? Who’s in charge? She’s in charge.

So, now as I face some of the biggest challenges I’ve yet to face so far, I’m finding myself running an on-going, internal chant: ‘Who’s in charge? She’s in charge,” over and over again. Fr. Jonathan, having lost a battle with lung cancer some months back, isn’t here in person to echo the lines with me. Nevertheless, I can still see the glint in his eyes, the pen doodling on the pad, the warm smile spreading across his face. And I can still hear his voice, clear as ever. “Who’d in charge?” She’s in charge. She’ll always be in charge.


Marge’s latest book, Strengthening Your Family, published by Our Sunday Visitor, was released November 1, 2011.

Visit Marge’s website: http://margefenelon.com/

Follow Marge on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/margaret.fenelon



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About the Author

Marge has been writing for a variety of both secular and Catholic publications for longer than she’d like to admit. She also spent some years as a public relations consultant. Now you’ll most often find her byline in National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor. She’s a regular columnist for the Milwaukee Catholic Herald and various internet publications. She’s a regular guest on Sacred Heart Radio’s “Sonrise Morning Show” with Brian Patrick, and has appeared a number of times on “Catholic Connections” with Teresa Tomeo. She’s also appeared on “A Conversation with the Archbishop” with Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Sirius Radio’s “Busted Halo Show” with Fr. Dave Dwyer, and Relevant Radio’s “Morning Air” with Sean Herriot, among others. Her list of book credits are quickly growing; her most recent being "Strengthening Your Family; A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home" (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011). She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a Public Relations Emphasis, a Certificate in Spiritual Mentoring, and a Certificate in Marian Studies. She’s a member of the Catholic Press Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Mariological Society of America. Marge is a nationally-known speaker and has presented to audiences in New York, Ohio, Illinois, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. With her husband, Mark, she assists in the faith formation of young married couples. They’re members of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement and have four mostly-grown children, who, combined with a rocket of a dog named Daisy, configure the fun-loving and sometimes outrageous Fenelon Clan. The core of her spirituality is the pedagogy of Servant of God, Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), founder of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement.

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