Meet Our Missionaries 2016 – 2017

We like flannel shirts and we like scarves. What more do you need to know?

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“My favorite animal for a pet is a dog. Or, more specifically, my husky/lab girl back home, Moxxi! However, my favorite animal as a body guard would be Aslan.”

My name is Stephanie Parks and I am bomb.

Why did I become a FOCUS missionary? The FOCUS missionaries at Drake were the people who taught me how to see Jesus as a real person who loves me and is present in my daily life in so many ways. They also taught me how to love others in a way that I was really missing out on. When considering whether to become a missionary or take a teaching job, I decided that I would always be restless until I rested in the Lord’s plan for me, which included following Him with everything I have and am!

I had a hidden talent once, but I don’t hide it anymore. I have a semi-useful knack for editing papers. Students, hit me up! I’d love to hep you out!

Saturdays. I love Saturdays. My fav is a long run followed by an afternoon of blogging, reading, and eating cookie dough.

My favorite quote? JPII’s words from World Youth Day in 2000—

“ It is Jesus you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

This Year at UMD

I’m pumped to be continuing my second year reaching out to athletes on campus! Varsity Catholic, the athlete movement within FOCUS, is alive and well at UMD! As a former collegiate cross country and track athlete, I am so excited to pass on what I’ve learned about how athletics is prime practice for sainthood. We’ve got athlete-specific Bible studies, monthly events and speakers, and the skills to make a great cheering section. Play a sport? Want to get involved? Email me and we’ll make it happen! Go Bulldogs!

Let’s Be Friends

http://twitter.com/stephanieparks1
stephanie.parks@focus.org
www.stephaniegoesthedistance.wordpress.com

 

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^ We’re not sure what’s happening in this photo. This is Peter taking a photo of the sun (which is a bad idea) or taking a selfie in an unconventional location (which is also a bad idea.)

My name is Peter O’Donnell and I even lift. I didn’t turn in my bio for the website, so Bailey wrote this for me:

Peter loves bargains, envies the Irishness of his little brothers’ Finnian and Rory’s names, and literally can’t even resist sports of any kind. Sometimes, when  we need to get a hold of him, we just yell “tennis” or “Seahawks” and he comes running. Peter completely forgets himself when planes, boats, or anything that goes enter his line of vision. He was the first to fart in front of the team and the last to pay me back for pizza. He maintains that he is the Ron Weasley and that every crew needs one. Peter might seem like a wet noodle at first, but he totally got his way in the great clash over the kitchen cupboards; his fleet of cereal boxes stand just where he wants them. He recommends checking with local churches for unwanted furniture, named his new-to-him chair Swirly, and with help, folds a gorgeous origami crane. Costco is his happy place, and if you’re wondering whether or not he’s a good painter, just take a gander at the killer undersea mural in his parents’ guest room. Saintly and spirited, Peter spends way too much time on YouTube.

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“In 1832 scientists concluded that I’m hilarious and should therefore be given free coffee on the regular.”

My Name is Traci Kulesa

I’m a big fan of Jesus. I’m from the teeny town of Warner, South Dakota but claim any place with a Tabernacle and good friends as my home (Bring it on, Duluth). My mom and dad are cute and super in love. Therefore, my older brother Tony and I exist. Tony must also really love his high school sweetheart and wife Kelsey, because their first child will be liberated from the womb very soon!

In 1832 scientists concluded that I’m hilarious and should therefore be given free coffee on the regular. I’m a huge fan of flannel, various beverages, bearded faces, musicals, strange foods, chill music, and the power of language and communication overall. My day is easily made when I get to take part in my ultimate passion: genuine conversation with wonderful humans.

I specialize in both pretending to be a countercultural hipster and also being the most basic American you’ve ever met.

Things/People that make me smile:

  • The Eucharist
  • Cows
  • Beards
  • Anyone’s laughter
  • Blessed Mother Teresa, soon to be Saint Teresa of Kolkata!
  • Dick Van Dyke
  • High- and Low-quality movies alike
  • Terrible puns and dad jokes
  • Basically every video on YouTube

Let’s Be Friends

This Year at UMD

Jesus Christ is going to continue falling in love with you and asking you for your Yes. I’d like to help you respond if you’re game.

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“You’ll notice in this photo of me that there is a huge rubber ducky. Are you jealous?”

My Name is Megan Carlson

I prefer a veil of mystery, but I am willing to share the following. 

My favorite….

  1. Snack – Cheez-its (preferably white cheddar)
  2. Hobby – cross stitching and various crafting
  3. Class from college – Infectious Diseases, immunology
  4. Cuisine – Italian
  5. Pet – Definitely a small dog, but possibly a penguin. For reasons. 
  6. Saturday leisure – cross-stitching, probably while watching a movie
  7. Quote – “There are no great things, only small things with great love” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

Then there is this…

  • I became a FOCUS missionary because Jesus told me to.
  • If I could live anywhere in the world, I would have no idea how to pick. But I REALLY love Minnesota though.
  • I’ve been as far as California and Florida, but never outside the U.S.A.
  • I have two siblings. 1 younger brother, Matt, and 1 younger sister, Amelia
  • If you could win gold in any Olympic sport, it would be for puns and cheesy jokes

Let’s Be Friends
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/megan.carlson.62442
Twitter: @MeganRose646
Email: megan.carlson@focus.org

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Hometown: Cuba City, WI

College: Loras College, Philosophy and Finance

“I maintained two jobs while in college, milking cows and driving the Zamboni for the local ice rink.”

My name is Ben Berning

I am the fourth of six children and grew up on a four generation dairy farm. I am your typical Wisconsinite; I have a particularly fond liking for cows, cheese, brats, arctic-like winters, beer, the Green Bay Packers, my family, Jesus Christ and His Church (this list is not in any particular order).

One of my favorite quotes is by Robert Louis Stevenson: “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” Which seems to blend nicely with the words of my dear friend St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” I have a bit of a “restless heart” and love the adventure that is our Christian faith.

I have a number of hobbies that I am incredibly mediocre at:

  • I enjoy sports in any form
  • I like to fish and catch nothing
  • Hiking is always a good time
  • I do a fair amount of reading (especially Catholic blogs… can’t get enough of those),
  • Eating my grandmother’s banana cake is one of my favorite hobbies
  • I went sky-diving once, dabbled with the piano, trumpet, guitar and harmonica (never practiced enough)
  • I also think camping, carpentry, art, movies and friends are great things.

This Year at UMD

I hope to incorporate all of the above hobbies into my Bible studies this year (yes, even sky-diving). Ever hear of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati? I think he is a great example for what it means to be a modern-day saint. There is a great joy to be found in our faith and in the world because of Jesus Christ. While at training for FOCUS I asked a Franciscan friar if he had any advice for me as I entered my ministry. His response was, “Be a fool for Christ.” So that’s my plan. I would love to get to know you! Call me, text me, email me, facebook me, tweet me, heck maybe you want to talk to me in person. I like to think I am pretty easy to get along with. Adventure, banana cake, Jesus Christ and His Church that is what I am all about.

You can read blogs. 

Let’s Be Friends

benjamin.berning@focus.org
https://www.facebook.com/ben.berning.5
http://twitter.com/BenjaminBerning
563.542.0935

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“There was a time when I lived for Barbies. Barbie everything!! I like picking out my family’s outfits so we can match. I think this has transferred to my team now too. So far they don’t seem to mind.”

My name is Bailey Brazier

I’m from Greenbush, MN, and I think it’s the greatest tiny town. I love my family the most: Mom, Dad, older brother, younger brother, little sister (she’s 11). I own a photography business! (Perpetua Photography, named after Our Lady of Perpetual Help) I really like writing, reading, and teaching. I love outdoors and family, especially together. I taught swimming lessons for 7 years. I always either over-pack or have nowhere near enough stuff.

I’m left handed. Pens make a big difference in what my handwriting looks like. I play the piano, but only for my Grandma. Movies I love are The Three Amigos and Father of the Bride – Steve Martin is my favorite. My best friend is 59 years old. I’m a Theta! (Kappa Alpha Theta sorority) I lost my bike last year. I graduated from high school with 45 classmates. I was the top of my class, though!

I never use my Twitter account because I’m too much of a perfectionist to decide what would be worth tweeting, and then I forget I have it. Snail mail always trumps emails/texts.

All of my favorite recipes include brown sugar.

The state of my room is usually a pretty accurate reflection of the state of my mind. I love decorating and crafting. I played volleyball in high school and love playing pick up or going to games. I liked being in plays. I’m pretty sentimental. I hate having too many colors in my room, but I’ll wear as many as possible.

Recommended Reading:

  • I Believe in Love
  • The Real Story (Curtis Martin)
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love
  • Return of the Prodigal Son
  • Love Worth Giving
  • The Help
  • Jesus Our Eucharistic Love
  • Pride and Prejudice

This Year at UMD

Meeting students on campus, building friendships, inviting students to Newman events and of course fun girly get-togethers, encouraging growth in faith, helping students find their role in the Church and the mission.

Let’s Be Friends

https://www.facebook.com/bailey.brazier
http://twitter.com/365sunnydays
bailey.brazier@focus.org