“God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
The O’Connor House began as a simple vision: to help young women in crisis pregnancies. But what started as a grassroots ministry operating out of a 45-year-old fixer-upper, is today both a loving home and structured program that has served over 450 women and children. Its roots can be traced back to 2001 when two women took a leap of faith after hearing a special calling from God.
Carmel resident, Colleen DuLac, participated on a pilgrimage to Italy with the Frassati Society through Our Lady of Mount Carmel church. During the trip she was a witness to many young men and women discerning vocations to the religious life and priesthood. It was when they visited Assisi that she began her own discernment.
“I was just at the beginning of my own journey back to my faith, but was struggling with the question of What is it that you want from me Lord?” said Colleen. “Due to me being a recently divorced, single mom, I didn’t think there was a vocation option for me. The trip ended but the questioning did not.”
The following January, Colleen travelled to Washington D.C. for the March for Life with several of the same people from the pilgrimage. It was during this trip that she started hearing God speaking to her.
“While at the Basilica [of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception], we were waiting for Mass to start so we visited with the Sisters of Life,” she said. We talked about their mission of helping young pregnant women and their children. I had never considered joining the convent before, but after talking to these incredible women, it was what I wanted more than anything.”
Shortly after their visit with the Sisters of Life, Mass began at the Basilica and Colleen was still asking God for answers. “During the homily I heard Him telling me that I didn’t have to be in a convent to open a home and help women and babies. I almost stood up and answered Him with an audible YES.”
Colleen travelled back to Indiana with this new desire in her heart. Shortly after returning home she met Kris Bussick through a mutual friend at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. “This house wouldn’t have worked AT ALL if God had not brought Kris Bussick alongside me on the journey,” said Colleen.
Kris, who at the time was also asking God what He wanted from her, felt that meeting Colleen was divine Providence. “I like to say I was a ‘listener’ and when Colleen shared her passionate story about how God was calling her to start a home for single mothers in crisis pregnancies, I knew in my heart I was supposed to say YES and the rest, as they say, is history!” said Kris.
Kris also gives credit to her mother, who taught her sacrificial love. “Looking back, I believe that growing up in a big family and watching my own mom sacrifice and pour herself out tirelessly amongst many trials gave me a deep appreciation for my own mom and the importance faith played in her life. I saw firsthand how her strong faith and prayers sustained her as she surrounded all of us with so much love and care. My mom showed me how to “love foolishly” (Cor. 1:18) and that has been a big part of The O’Connor House’s story as well.”
Although beginning the ministry was not an easy task, and often overwhelming, Colleen and Kris both knew they were being guided at every turn. “Anytime over the next few years when an obstacle would present itself someone would come to us with an offer of help, oftentimes prior to us voicing the need,” said Colleen. “God was, is, and always will be there when we need Him.”
Kris shares that there have even been times when she felt like giving up, but those were the moments that she especially felt a helping hand guiding her and pushing her. “Those are some of my sweetest memories,” she said. “It was often through difficulties that I learned patience and felt His presence as He would often show up through the people He sent into my life. This incredible journey has made God real to me and has increased my own faith as I had to learn to trust in Providence.”
Colleen never imagined The O’Connor House would eventually grow into what it is today. “I learned early in the process not to put my limits on God’s work. Once I got out of the way and really let God’s blessings flow, our little mission grew into more than I ever could have imagined.”
Kris also reflects on the success of the ministry over the years. “My final take away, and I truly mean this, is that I have learned that the success of The O’Connor House does not depend on me, it is His ‘House.’ Through all of it I have been a ‘Witness to Love.’ God is our Father and takes care of all of those who come to Him in need.”