Continuing the Charism–Alumni Spotlight

follow url Kathleen Lamontagne
Franciscan Volunteer 2015-2016

Meandering alongside vast farmlands and fields blossoming with wild flowers. Walking briskly down well-traveled dirt roads beneath canopies of vine covered trees. Watching glorious sunrises and sunsets from mountain peaks. In each encounter with nature throughout the pilgrimage, God’s presence abounds and His love is revealed. Hearts sing praise and thanksgiving for the beauty of God’s wondrous creation—just a glimpse of His beautiful face that we are made to see at the end of our journey on this earth.

After a year of staying up late studying and spending countless hours in the simulation clinic, I decided it was time to once again immerse myself in nature, the environment where I feel most alive. Upon graduating from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. Before diving into another four years of schooling, however, I chose to volunteer for a year with the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia: No Risk, No Gain. Throughout that year, I was blessed with the opportunity to deepen my relationship with God as I cared for His creation. I lived in a small community, in which we were able to challenge one another to better ourselves, and I spent my days working outside on Red Hill Farm, which provides organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs to the larger community. Being surrounded by nature’s beauty and feeling the earth with my hands and feet has always been a spiritual experience for me. While helping on the farm, I was so fortunate to have this encounter with nature on a daily basis. Nature is a clear reflection of God’s love for us. Not only do the natural gifts of the earth provide for our most basic needs, but they also are present for our enjoyment. As someone who has so much gratitude for God’s wonderful creation, I try to seize each opportunity I can to live amidst it all and let God work through me.

Being a dental student, it has been difficult to find the same space and time to grow in my relationship with God as I was able to while living as a volunteer. When the end of my first school year rolled around this past May, I jumped on an opportunity to spend two weeks rejuvenating my body, mind, and spirit. While at a Laudato Si event in Philadelphia the previous year, I had learned of a nonprofit organization called Creatio whose mission is to help young adults encounter God through nature and service. When I saw that during my short break the group would be leading a Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, an adventure I had been longing to embark on, I felt like God had planned it that way for a reason.

El Camino de Santiago, one of the oldest pilgrimages of the Catholic Church, is a journey that leads its many worldwide pilgrims to the tomb site of Jesus’ apostle St. James the Greater. Each day of the journey, my fellow pilgrims and I came together for Mass, spent time together as a community, and walked roughly 30 km. During those long walks, I was able to spend much time in prayer and reflection. Feeling the dusty paths beneath my feet and the warm sun on my face and looking out at the vast array of gorgeous landscapes, I was able to sense the presence of God in such a powerful way. A great portion of the walk lead me through rolling farmlands, and that revived my spirit and brought me back to my days working on the farm and all the feelings associated with it. The beauty of God’s creation that I was blessed to be a part of while on the Camino was so magnificent. If that was only a small reflection of God’s own beauty, I cannot even imagine how overwhelmingly breathtaking His beauty must be in its entirety. St. Anthony of Padua once said, “If things created are so full of loveliness, how resplendent with beauty must be the One who made them,” and his words truly express the prayerful reflections and experiences I had while journeying on el Camino de Santiago.

I know life will continue to be busy as I pursue my dreams of serving those around me through dentistry, but I will continue to seek out opportunities to feel a glimpse of what I felt on that beautiful pilgrimage and hope that I will one day soon be able to walk it again.

Volunteer Alumni

buy fincar online without a prescription Kathleen WebsiteKathleen Lamontagne source link  
Hometown: Manchester, NH

Ministry: I volunteer as an organic gardener on Red Hill Farm. I love caring for creation by cultivating natural gifts from the earth to feed God’s people.

As a nature enthusiast, I love spending time outdoors, whether it is hiking, swimming, going for long runs, or just exploring the natural world. I am always up for an adventure and enjoy traveling to new places and immersing myself in different cultures. I like to make creative gifts and bake gluten free treats for my big family. I am excited to start dental school this fall so that I can live out my calling to lovingly serve my community as a dentist.

Sabina1Sabina Marroquin
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Ministry: The community at the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia, is a favorite part of my ministry. The diversity, hospitality, dedication, and faith present there has been so life giving! I especially enjoy when we host groups at Aquinas and they are able to be immersed in our community for a week. Watching people come together from various walks of life is always beautiful.

My first day of ministry was a late night that ended in a storm and the discovery that my car battery had died.  With almost no phone battery left, I thought I was going to be stranded in a brand new city. Thankfully someone from Aquinas came with the parish priest to give my car a jump and save the day. It’s been an adventure every day since!

Mikah WebsiteMikah Ochieng
Hometown: Taneytown, MD

Ministry: My ministry site is at Anna’s Place in Chester, Pennsylvania. There I am able to work alongside the sisters while helping to bond with and instruct students from the Chester area in computer skills.

I really take interest in the happenings of my city, Philadelphia, whether that takes shape in its exciting cultural events, music, food, recreational opportunities—such as biking along the Schuylkill river—or enjoying the nightlife environment with friends.  I had something interesting happen to me recently. Over the weekend, I was driving back from Massachusetts with a friend. About halfway through the trip—while we were driving through New York City—our car conveniently decided to give up the ghost. We ended up stranded for some time before we got our car towed off the highway in Queens and into the Brooklyn neighborhood where we would have to wait for what felt like an eternity before AAA towed the car to a mechanic. By then it was getting late in the evening and we had no other option but to find some other way back to Philadelphia. Did I mention that our cell phones were dying?  The AAA service worker was kind enough to allow us to charge our phones in his truck as we were being towed—he even dropped us off at a subway station and directed us to where we could catch a bus back to Philly. In the end we made it back home safely and sanely after a 12-hour ordeal. In retrospect, however, it was a transformative bonding experience between the friend with whom I was traveling and me.