Kendra Stewart is a 2013 graduate and is currently a FOCUS missionary in Alabama.
What is your current title and workplace?
I am currently a second-year Varsity Catholic FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary serving at the University of South Alabama. Varsity Catholic is a specific outreach to collegiate athletes typically by former collegiate athletes.
How did you get involved in this work, and did you see this as a pathway when you were in high school?
I actually heard of FOCUS my senior year of high school when I was invited to attend the national FOCUS conference called SEEK in Orlando, FL with 20 other Pius X seniors. After a 28+ hour bus ride, it was there I saw 6,000 college students (now the conference is growing to 15,000+ people) who desired to grow more in their faith by attending a variety of talks, having adoration and allowing themselves to encounter Christ.
I became more involved with FOCUS during my freshman year at Benedictine College by joining a bible study that was being led on the Cross Country team (I ran cross country, indoor & outdoor track).
While attending Pius X High School I discovered my desire to serve others, ask deeper questions, analyze my surroundings and to help those around me to find Christ and community. I was formed in these areas through having constant access to the sacraments, a chapel to encounter Christ daily, being a part of FCT Leadership Board (now under a different name I believe), finding community in being a part of the Cross Country and Track teams, being a member of Resonance Choir and being shown what it means to be a servant leader by the priests, religious, and lay men and women who worked there.
How does your faith play into your role?
Faith is at the center of who I am and the work I do. Without faith, a daily habit of prayer, and receiving the Sacraments I begin to rely upon myself and less on God.
What do you see in college students that gives you more energy to continue the work, and what do you see college students struggle with in their faith journey?
In the transition to college, students are given more choices than most have ever had before. How they spend their time, the friends they surround themselves with, what they do on weekends, what they are going to study, if they are going to work or do their homework and most importantly if they are going to pursue their faith. It can be a huge challenge because the rest of the environment in a college setting says to choose the things which will immediately gratify your desire for happiness through Netflix, drinking, sex, drugs, social media, pornography or jumping from one relationship to the next. There are so many choices to make and faith often becomes lost when it should be the first choice. I receive so much life and continue to serve as a missionary because I see the impact and true freedom that comes when college students are able to leave other lifestyles behind and choose Christ above all else so as to properly order the rest of their lives.
How do you think this missionary experience will impact you throughout your life?
This experience will forever change my life. It has challenged me to grow in my relationship with Christ, self awareness, servant leadership, responsibility, to a deeper understanding of what is sacrifice. It has and will continue to impact every friendship and relationship I have and what ever vocation the Lord calls me to.
When not working, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing?
When I am not working I love being outside – running, hiking, swimming, hunting, fishing, laying in a hammock reading a good book and encountering Christ in the beauty and silence in nature.
What memories do you have of Pius X High School?
- Junior year we took a choir trip to New York, upon visiting one of the local churches next to where the Twin Towers once were we took a moment to pause and sing the Ave Maria (As I kneel before you) hymn A Capella. It was one of the most moving moments of the trip.
- Every football, volleyball, and basketball game and the wide array of themes- some of my favorites being paint yourself silly, making the American Flag on 9/11 and white out.
- Junior year doing the egg drop project with one of my best friends.
- Helping organize and plan the talks and themes for the Fall Retreat and watching it all come to fruition.