Continuing the Charism–Alumni Spotlight

Brother Mikah, OCSO
Franciscan Volunteer 2015-2016

Since the completion of my volunteer year with the Sisters of St. Francis I have continued to be gifted with a life of prayer, communal life, and intimate relationship with Jesus; a life not unrelated to my time in Franciscan Volunteers: No Risk, No Gain.

Like the expression of grace radiating from those following in the footsteps of St. Francis, the fraternal way of life as a Trappist monk gives beautiful witness to the world of God’s unrelenting desire to constantly dwell with us.  Throughout my volunteer year I had been discerning just this.

In August of 2016 I discerned, with the help of some of the sisters I might add, to live the monastic life of the Trappists—or Cistercians as they are also commonly known—at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA.  In October I officially joined as their postulant.

As a Benedictine community (following the Rule of St. Benedict) our lives center on self-supporting work for the monastery and communal prayer.  For those who experience life at the Abbey time allows one to slow down to take deliberate stock of one’s life, and to listen to the voice of God calling you ever-deeper into loving relationship with himself and one’s neighbor.  On a practical level I contribute to our jams, jellies, and preserves industry as a quality control inspector and in our brewery as a manual laborer.

Volunteer Alumni

Kathleen WebsiteKathleen Lamontagne 
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.