Editorial Note: This fall, we're featuring profiles of people who are or have been part of the Echo program in the McGrath Institute for Church Life. Echo provides students the opportunity to earn a Master's degree from Notre Dame while gaining real-world experience in parish ministry or teaching high school theology, all while receiving robust spiritual and human formation.
What made you decide to enter the Echo program?
I still remember the conversation I had with my friend Aimee Shelide Mayer after our undergrad theology class one day. I was a sophomore and Aimee was a senior who had said yes to Echo for the following year. She described the program: live in community, serve in a parish, complete a master’s degree, and get paid to do it. I was immediately sold! It struck me as an incredible chance to serve the Church and grow in faith and knowledge. Two years later, I applied to zero other grad school programs or jobs. Good thing it worked out!
What does your current ministry entail?
I serve as the senior communications manager for the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Our team is responsible for maintaining jesuits.org and running a wide variety of social media accounts. If you look up the Jesuits on Google or Twitter here in the USA, you’ll most likely find stuff we’re doing. We just started a podcast called AMDG, which I get to host. It’s so fun to call up Jesuits and lay collaborators (plus Jesuit superfan Malcolm Gladwell) and ask them big questions about faith and their work and the Church. I’m helping to lead our office toward producing more web content aimed at engaging younger Catholics in Ignatian spirituality. It’s not a traditional ministry job, but I’m bringing my ministry background and passion to the work and enjoying it immensely!
How did the education and formation you received in Echo impact your understanding and practice of ministry?
I love Echo’s vision of discipleship—so many elements coming together in a life of beauty and meaning. What a compelling vision to share with the world, including people who are searching for something more out of life. The program models an integrated life of faith that we were then empowered to bring to our ministry placements. You couldn’t have Echo without the intellectual formation. Or the shared community life. Or the practical ministry skills training. Or the ministry itself. Or the retreats or commitment to service or liturgy or shared prayer. Or the support of a dedicated staff as apprentices grow in maturity. When I approach ministry now, I work to make I’m engaging people’s heads, hearts, and hands.
What has proven to be the most formative part of your Echo experience?
No way I can choose only one! Can I pick two? First, living in community was the best preparation I could’ve had for marriage. Maybe Pre-Cana programs should require prospective spouses to live two years in intentional faith community before getting married. (Kidding. Maybe.) I learned how to listen to community mates, to tackle conflicts head-on, and how to share faith with people you live with. Second, Echo allows you take what you learn in the classroom and apply it right away in leadership. There’s no substitute for leading a ministry experience from start to finish and learning from it. I came out of the program with a pretty strong sense of how to put together a ministry program and how to facilitate it. I was so well prepared for the first job I had out of Echo working with teenagers, and for every job since then.