UNIVERSITY of NOTRE DAME

INSTITUTE FOR CHURCH LIFE

Echo 13 St. Augustine

Bryan Westerlund

Echo Class:
Echo 13 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
St. Paul’s Catholic Church (Jacksonville Beach)
Diocese of St. Augustine

Hometown:
Pittsburgh, PA

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
University of Dayton, 2016
Pre-Physical Therapy

What attracted you to Echo and helped you decide to join the program?
I had always been attracted to join a service program after graduation. Being able to work towards a Masters degree in Theology, while serving the Church, and sharing this experience with enthusiastic peers- it seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up.

What kinds of things are you up to in your Echo parish?
Currently, I’m working in the Office of Adult Faith Formation and Parish Ministry. This year, I’ll be involved with RCIA for children, youth and young adult ministry, and other parish ministries.

What is the most significant thing you’ve learned in Echo?
Echo has taught me that ALL people (including young people) need to live more boldly and courageously in their Catholic faith for the future of the Church!

What advice would you give to Echo applicants?
If you’re looking for a post-grad opportunity that will challenge and strengthen your Catholic faith, this is the program for you.

Rachel Meixner

Echo Class:
Echo 13 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
St. Matthew Catholic Church
Diocese of St. Augustine

Hometown:
Ashland, OH

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
Franciscan University of Steubenville, 2016
Theology, Catechetics
Youth Ministry (concentration)
Communications (minor)

What is your favorite quote, song, or image?
While there are a lot of quotes and songs that I love, one that I still remember well and that brings me encouragement was spoken by one of the Franciscan Friars, TOR, who said in a homily once:

“If you don’t hear God calling you to great things, then you’re not listening.”

What have you enjoyed most about your Echo experience thus far?
The authenticity of those in the Echo class has been really remarkable.  I’ve never felt like anyone was putting on a mask to impress me or look good in front of me. Also, everyone has been very affirmative toward me so far.  I’ve told some of my friends that I have never felt so edified as a person and as someone wanting to minister to others in the Church than I have been made to feel by those in Echo, particularly those in the Echo class preceding ours (Echo 12), who have welcomed and helped all of us as younger brothers and sisters.

What kinds of things are you up to in your Echo parish?
I am a member of the Core Team for St. Matthew’s Life Teen program (high school youth ministry), and I am the catechist for the Kindergarten level of the parish’s Religious Education program.  I have also been asked to consider presenting for an RCIA session and to consider providing a Breaking Open the Lectionary program for them during the Lenten season. I also work in the office helping to do various tasks there including designing our flyers and social media posts using modern means of communication.

What advice would you give to Echo applicants?
This is a great opportunity to gain experience in ministry while still being a part of a community that is there to support and challenge you to grow spiritually.  It’s also fantastic to be in a program that is structured in such a way to help you succeed.  Also, be sure to get some of the study materials for the GRE (and start preparing earlier than a week in advance if possible): they’ll help you know how to approach the test.

Iciar Ocariz-Elsen

Echo Class:
Echo 13 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
San Jose Parish
Diocese of St. Augustine

Hometown:
Spooner, WI

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
University of Notre Dame, 2016
Theology, Arabic

What are your favorite hobbies and activities outside of your ministry work?
I am an avid runner and also love cooking, gardening, singing, playing ping pong and just being outside.

What attracted you to Echo and helped you decide to join the program?
After working as a  mentor-in-faith through Notre Dame Vision and then as in intern at Catholic Charities Atlanta in the Refugee and Resettlement department I knew that I wanted to do ministry after graduation, specifically multicultural ministry.  I also knew that I needed the support of a faith community in order to deepen my faith and effectively serve others.

What have you enjoyed most about your Echo experience thus far?
I absolutely love the Echo community.  I’ve never encountered such generous, loving, Christ-centered people; each day they teach me how to be a better person.  When the going gets tough during Echo summer or ministry, they’ve got your back.

What kinds of things are you up to in your Echo parish?
I am the 6th grade catechist, will be leading a few RCIA sessions in both English and Spanish, help out with the high school youth group and participate in an Arabic prayer group.

Trenton Mattingly

Echo Class:
Echo 13 Parish Apprentice

Parish & Diocesan Placement:
St. Catherine of Siena
Diocese of St. Augustine

Hometown:
Lexington, KY

Undergraduate Institution & Area(s) of Study:
Bellarmine University, 2015
English
Music Technology (minor)

What are your favorite hobbies and activities outside of your ministry work?
Outside of ministry, my favorite hobbies are fitness, skateboarding, music composition, audio production, and writing.

What is your favorite quote, song, or image?
My favorite song is Burn Out Brighter by Anberlin. It is in one of my favorite styles of music while also presenting an inspiring message about how life isn’t just about you. Instead, it is about living for others and for God.

What attracted you to Echo and helped you decide to join the program?
After discovering a personal passion for catechesis and apologetics after a few years of campus ministry work at Bellarmine University, I was very excited to learn of a program at Notre Dame that was centered around that. After meeting a few staff members and current students I realized the authenticity, rigor, and love present in Echo. After that, I was completely sold.

What advice would you give to Echo applicants?
First and foremost, I would say to pray. This is going to take two years of your life, maybe take you away from family, give you a new family of people you haven’t met yet, and throw you into a world that you may not be familiar with. That is a big commitment and you’ll definitely need God’s help deciding if this is the next step you are taking in life. Also, talk to those that are close to you about it. They’ve helped you get this far in life and I’m sure they’d be more than willing to help you get a little farther.