Undergraduate service at Cabrini Mission Corps

By Elizabeth Krupka
January 15, 2011

After college, students are plagued with a myriad of questions. Should I go to graduate school? Where do I look for a job? Do I take a year off and travel? Finding answers to these questions are frightening.

Post-graduate service is a path that is always available but not always in the forefront of students minds. Since it is a road less traveled students don’t always think out of the box, and explore the option.

The Cabrini Mission Corps is an organization on Cabrini’s campus that allows post-graduates to complete their mission following in the footsteps of  Saint Frances Cabrini.

Missioners are not clergy, this is a very common misconception. Which is also one of the reasons that students very infrequently consider completing post-grduate service. Missioners are ordinary people who are looking to satisfy their need to help, in a more serious manner.

The Cabrini Mission Corps has missioners placed in many different places in the world. If a candidate is not interested in going abroad, they can be a missioner in the United States at one of the Cabrini sites in New York or New Orleans.

Missioners have fulfilling stories and successful trips: Crystal Catalan was born in Laguna Niguel, Calif. She studied communication and business administration and as soon as she graduated went to work in a corporate job. However she found this life choice  lacking in some way. Catalano couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that she needed to be doing something else with her life. That she wasn’t supposed to be working in the typical job setting.

“I got hired to do sales and marketing with a subsidiary of News Corp, and this was great, as it had a promising career path. Well, in the midst of working for this company for two years, I was also making annual trips to the Philippines, to do mission work (I made a promise to myself to use my two weeks of vacation for this), and well, it just so happened that I realized that I was living two lives. I felt like my heart and my passion was not in sales and marketing, but rather it was in mission work and ministry. I love marketing and I loved the people I worked with, but it was not in line with where I felt my great joy resided,” Catalano said.

Another current missioner is Laura Johnson. Her story is different than Catalano’s in the sense that she knew since she was younger that she wanted to be a part of the missionary way of life.

“Since I was in high school, I have always felt drawn to the missionary way of life…the idea that the destiny of all humanity is bound up in one another and that those of us who have resources (money, health, education), have the responsibly to spread the wealth to those who don’t have the same opportunities in this world. I was drawn to the missionary way of life by the associate pastor at my childhood parish in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was part of a missionary community and invited me to have a ‘hands-on’ experience once I turned 18. Less than two months after my 18th birthday I was on a plane bound for his community’s mission in Sabana Yegua, Azua, Dominican Republic. That experience was so powerful in my life, that it led me to believe I was called to be a missionary too someday. In college, I studied Spanish and theology and was able to have two study/serve abroad experiences in Madrid, Spain and Bogota, Colombia,” Johnson said.

All of the missioners at Cabrini Mission Corps have different stories as to why they got there and their experiences as missioners.

Grace Lape knew she was being called to serve as a missioner, however her experience have made her steadfast in her decision to definitively become a missioner.

“At this point of my year, I would say it is nearly impossible to say exactly what gifts I am receiving from my service. I have received so much from my wide range of experiences, people I have encountered, and challenges I have faced.  I am sure the fruits of my mission will be present long after my year of service is over and I pray to be transformed by the experience when it is all over. For the moment I receive both joy and the challenge to grow which I hope will create a new and better person who is more faithful to God’s call in the years to come,” Lape said.

Elizabeth Krupka

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