UNIVERSITY of NOTRE DAME

INSTITUTE FOR CHURCH LIFE

Echo 12 Kalamazoo

Sara Pekar

Echo Class:
Echo 12 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
St. Joseph Catholic Church
Diocese of Kalamazoo

Hometown:
Walton Hills, Ohio

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
University of Dayton, 2015
Economics

What are your favorite hobbies and activities outside of your ministry work?
I love playing my guitar and ukulele and singing! It’s also great to come home after a long day of work to cook dinner with my community and hear from them about all the wonderful things they’re doing!

What attracted you to Echo and helped you decide to join the program?
Echo kept popping up around my life in the midst of a mid-college vocational crisis. Realizing there was no way I could pursue a career in Economics and wanting to take a year off to do service, Echo fell in my lap at the moment I realized, “Huh! I actually can do ministry as more than a hobby.” And the rest is history!

What kinds of things are you up to in your Echo parish?
I’ve been assisting the youth director in her ministry with middle and high school students, teaching third grade religious education, and coordinating the registration and promotion for a big spiritual renewal that our parish is undertaking this fall! I’m also going to be giving a few confirmation retreat talks this fall!

What advice would you give to Echo applicants?
Ask a lot of questions! Echo is an excellent program, and if it’s meant for you, it will find you! Especially if your background isn’t in theology, you can do it! It might seem intimidating, but if you find it intriguing, ask questions!

Alanna Kenney

Echo Class:
Echo 12 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
St. Monica Catholic Church
Diocese of Kalamazoo

Hometown:
Dublin, Ohio

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
University of Notre Dame, 2015
Theology, Pre-Professional

What attracted you to Echo and helped you decide to join the program?
I like to joke that I was first attracted to Echo because of a free Chipotle burrito at an information night. In reality, after my initial encounter with Echo, I was so intrigued by the program. It is so intentional and well-rounded, and I could not help but say yes to a program that so genuinely wants its apprentices and theology teachers to grow and live authentically. For as much as I love free Chipotle, as I’ve discovered and participated in Echo, my appreciation and gratitude for the program has only grown since that free burrito!

What kinds of things are you up to in your Echo parish?
I’m doing all sorts of things in my parish! My current projects are teaching 7th grade Religious Ed./Confirmation Prep, assisting on the RCIA team, helping the St. Monica grade school students with Mass preparation, and planning for a future youth ministry.

What do you hope to do after Echo?
I haven’t quite figured this question out yet, but I trust that God will guide me in the right direction. Perhaps I will remain in ministry or teaching, but I am also discerning working in the medical field in some capacity. Either way, I could not have asked for better spiritual, personal and professional formation than what I have received in Echo. I know that in whatever direction God leads me, I will be better formed and prepared because of Echo.

What advice would you give to Echo applicants?
Remain open, authentic, and vulnerable in your relationship with God and with yourself. In the application process, it can sometimes be difficult to understand what exactly you’ll be doing as an Echo theology teacher or apprentice. However, if you remain authentically yourself and open to God’s will, you can trust that you won’t be led astray.

Megan Gilbert

Echo Class:
Echo 12 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
St. Ann Catholic Church
Diocese of Kalamazoo

Hometown:
Peoria, Illinois

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
Marquette University, 2015
Theology
Gender Studies, Psychology (minors)

What attracted you to Echo and helped you decide to join the program?
I loved the idea of serving the Church and growing in my faith by sharing my faith with others. The intellectual formation piece appealed to my desire to be an informed leader in the Church.  The human, communal, and spiritual formation piece spoke to my need to grow in prayer and to share life with fellow disciples of Christ.  Talking with those who were in the Echo program helped me discern if Echo would be a good fit for me.

What have you enjoyed most about your Echo experience thus far?
I have loved learning from professors, Echo staff members, fellow students, parishioners, and community members. These people have inspired me by their stories, faith, and lives.  I appreciate being able to share my faith and spirituality with those around me.

What do you hope to do after Echo?
I’m not sure.  I am thinking about working in a Catholic healthcare system in some capacity.

What advice would you give to Echo applicants?
The best advice I heard is that discerning Echo is a two-way street: both you and the Echo staff are discerning if Echo is the right fit for you.  Ask questions to those who are in the program and to Echo staff.  Think and pray about whether your goals, gifts, and desires match with Echo’s mission and pillars. Take time to listen to God speaking in your heart, trust in what He is saying to you, and take action to follow His will.  And if you take part in the interview process, let your light shine!