Stories of Discernment: Pam O'Conner


I volunteer at Next-to-New to have the opportunity to do God’s work in serving my church, my community, and people.

how did you discern god's will?

As a child, my parents, priests, Sunday school, and confirmation classes taught me to have faith and always give back because the Lord has given to us. This was a regular practice and was written on our hearts with emphasis. In 1947, at two years old, my sister was a polio victim.  She was paralyzed on one side and very sick. She was in a polio hospital away from us and my parents went every weekend to be with her. I stayed with the neighbor. We prayed, we planned how to take care of her when she came home  and how to deal with people that shunned us because of this disease. My parents were givers and doers who worked in jobs that dealt with illness, recovery, death, and long-term effects. The blessing is that we have and believe in God, who walks with us through trials like this. My sister recovered with minimal side effects. Grateful, I and my family continue to serve in the community and church. I am blessed to volunteer at Next-to-New, where our work and proceeds are shared at church and in the community. I am blessed to have a faith and a church where I can give, love, and support and receive love and support. 

was there a moment or sign when you knew the voice of god was present?

I have not had the experience of actually seeing a figure or hearing a voice that I believe is God in person. That is frustrating for me because I want to make sure I understand the message. I want to see a figure beside me, hear the words loud and clear, and feel a physical hug or pat. Because of my faith, I always believe God is present. I also know there are times when I don’t or can’t hear Him, but I know He’s there. There are times when I don’t like the answer, call, or result, but I know He’s there loving and supporting me. 

what is your continuing discernment practice?

I practice prayer in many ways. I pray daily wherever, whenever, however, and then at Daily Prayer. I attend church weekly to hear sermons which challenge me to think, understand, try to practice, and pray together with others. 
I volunteer at Next-to-New to have the opportunity to do God’s work in serving my church, my community, and my people. I am a member of Daughters of the King which gives me a practice of daily prayers and a study for enriched prayer. I am also a community volunteer for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, helping to teach children, adults, and people dealing with mobility challenges to swim and be safe in the water. 
My most gratifying church/prayer season is Lent, which includes an additional pointed practice of prayer, denial, and giving. It is my time to reflect, repent, and renew. I am so blessed to be a Christian, an Episcopalian, and to love and be loved by God. 

These Stories of Discernment came out of our 2024 year-long focus on discernment as a parish. Throughout the summer, we will share these stories to inspire our community to continue to explore ways to listen to God’s call in our lives as individuals and as a parish.

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