I LOVE Duluth, the students here, and the awesome Newman community! Also, I love South Dakota more than I could tell you but the landscape around UMD is so beautiful, and the lakes here are far Superior than in good ol’ SoDak.

My Name is Traci Kulesa

I am from Aberdeen, SD – but most of me came from Target.

How many people are in your family, and where do you fit in with the kids? A family of four! My brother Tony is four years older than me, his wife’s name is Kelsey and their adorable son’s name is Owen!

I attended THEE University of South Dakota (Go Yotes) in Vermillion, SD, with a degree in Communication Studies with a little bit of Philosophy and Speech Pathology mixed in.

When you I was little, I wanted to be a singer. A singer. And briefly, a waitress.

Students, I am here for you! I’m always available to talk one-on-one with students about prayer, hipster bands, the deep symbolic meaning in a given Broadway musical or song, go on adventures, and anything The Lord brings into my path! Basically, I’m here to walk with students so we can run to Heaven together.

You should get involved with our Bible Studies because it was one of the best things I probably did in college. I made some of my closest friends that are still people that I go to when I need help or want to celebrate life. I learned how to pray with and for people, how to be silly and how to be serious. I loved it.

Favorite saints?

  • Saint Teresa of Calcutta
  • Saint JPII
  • Blessed Pier Giorgio, and so many others.
  • #DreamTeam

Favorite Catholic book?

Come Be My Light ~ Letters from Saint Teresa of Calcutta to her spiritual directors

Favorite Scripture verse?

  • Joshua 24: 13 “You have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”
  • If you were forced to get a tattoo of a quote, what would that quote be? Talitha koum ~ “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” -Jesus

There are some things you should know about me. These things cause me problems: 

  • When people avoid eye contact
  • When people do not give driving directions quickly enough before the turn comes
  • When Daffy Duck and I can’t find Michael Jordan’s special shorts in time for the big game.

When I order coffee: regular coffee no room. I’m okay with people buying me coffee.

My Name is Tim Heyrman

I am from New Berlin, Wisconsin
.  In my family are my parents and my one younger brother Paul.

 I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 5 years where I earned an Accounting degree.

I am excited to be here in Duluth and spend the year with my FOCUS team and the Newman center community while getting to know the Lake Superior area. I am also excited to spread my Green Bay Packer pride this year. UMD is quite a bit smaller than UW-Madison and the entire campus is connected, which is strange.

Why did you become a FOCUS missionary? After I got more involved at the Catholic Center during my senior year at UW-Madison, there have been several different moments that have led me to this point. One very impactful part of my journey to becoming a missionary was going on a FOCUS mission trip to Ecuador in between my fourth and fifth years of college. Being a FOCUS missionary became the next step in my faith journey and I really had a stronger desire to be a missionary than to go and do accounting work after graduation.

This year on campus… I hope to remind and inform students that they were made for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Hopefully, students will see that following Jesus Christ is the best way to live one’s life. Students and all people need to know that they made were made for a relationship with God and nothing other than God will satisfy their hearts.

What was it like to be involved with FOCUS on your own campus? 
It was a really good experience. I met the FOCUS missionaries during my fourth year in school and they had a big impact on me.

My Favorite Saints:

  • St. John Paul II
  • St. Teresa of Calcutta
  • St. Padre Pio
  • St. Maximilian Kolbe

Favorite Catholic book? 
Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Father Jacques Philippe

College is all about habits. Here’s a good one.  
Saying 3 Hail Mary’s a day asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession. Establish a daily prayer life by setting aside 10-15 minutes for prayer every day. Just be silent and have a conversation with God. Find someone who is striving to pray everyday as well and have them hold you accountable. Looking to start praying? I’m happy to help!

When I was little, I dreamed of growing up to be a professional dancer or a writer.

My Name is Stephanie Parks

I am from Norfolk, NE. I have a twin sister! (To answer your questions… We’re fraternal, not identical; I’m older by a minute; and no, we don’t read each other’s minds!)

I attended Drake University from 2011-2015 and graduated with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Secondary Education. I’m licensed to teach middle and high school English and Reading/Literacy Strategies, and to coach! (I also ran track and cross country for Drake… Go (other) Bulldogs!

After going on a mission trip to Africa this summer, I came back very ready to pursue what it means to live fully alive this year! Whether that means waking up early to see the sun rise, trying new activities that I might make a fool of myself doing, or just finding more ways to incorporate laughter and joy into my day, I want to live fully alive, just as Jesus wants!

Why did I become a FOCUS missionary? My life was changed by a number of FOCUS missionaries who served on my college campus. They were some of the first Catholics I had known who lived their faith in a way that was actually attractive and joyful, and the way that they loved and cared for me showed me how Jesus had been trying to love and care for me my whole life. I had never had that witness before, and I want to be that witness for others.

This year at UMD, I’ll be the team director of this wonderful crew of missionaries, and I’m so excited to serve with them! I’ll also be continuing to serve the athletes as a part of Varsity Catholic, an offshoot of FOCUS. The world of collegiate athletics is often isolating and reduces people to the points they can score or the games they can win. Athletes deserve to know that God is so proud of them and all they are doing to rise to an excellent call, but that they are worth so much more than just their efforts on the field of play!

What was it like to be involved with FOCUS on your own campus? Our missionaries encouraged us that we could change the world! But they also knew how to have so much fun!  Bible study and one-on-one mentorship were constants that I relied on to know Jesus, and they also had lots of wacky gatherings that helped us over-studious students remember to have fun!

You should get involved with FOCUS. Because during  my freshman year of college, I signed up for a FOCUS Bible study my first weekend on campus at student Mass. That semester, I learned so much about the faith that actually mattered to me, and I actually learned to pray and talk to Jesus. Once He became real to me, He began to show me the adventure He had planned for me!

Who were the biggest influences in your spiritual maturity?

My good friend Megan taught me so much about how to walk with the Lord daily. She loved me in so many small ways (I often came home to find her in my house, at my sink, doing my dishes…YES). She taught me how to truly meet others’ physical and spiritual needs and how to truly discern Jesus’ voice at every moment!

What do you love about being Catholic?

I LOVE the universal nature of our faith–I’ve now been to 13 countries, and experiencing the Mass in different languages but still being able to participate and to share the sign of peace with others who don’t speak my language is always a powerful experience. Plus, I’ve learned that Jesus in the Eucharist is the same Jesus everywhere, and how big He his but also how humble He is blows my mind!

Who are you favorite saints?

I’m a big fan of St. Clare of Assisi–when the Lord asked her things, she responded completely wholeheartedly. She lived a life of humility and docility, but instead of that making her weak, it made her a leader and a visionary! I also love St. Therese and her Little Way. Her idea of doing even the smallest chores and tasks as if she was doing them for Jesus is something I try to incorporate into my mission, because it transforms hearts!

Favorite Catholic book?

I’m currently reading Soul of the Apostolate, and even though it’s challenging me on how I’m living my life a lot, I truly love it! Plus, the writing is poetic and profound, and my English-major heart is a big fan of that.

Favorite Scripture verse? Isaiah 62: 3-5

“You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord,
A royal diadem in the hand of your God.
No more shall you be called, “Forsaken,”
Nor your land “Desolate,”
But you shall be called, “My delight is in her. …
As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
So shall your God rejoice in you.”

If you were forced to get a tattoo of a quote, what would that quote be?

“He rescued me because He delighted in me.” –Psalm 18

What song from church stirs your heart… when you hear it, you just light up inside?

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us!

What are good habits for students who are trying to grow in their faith amidst the chaos of college?

Pray for at least 20 minutes every day. Silently. All at once. Let Jesus look at you and tell you what He sees. This time will allow Jesus to tell you are, instead of the culture and the world telling you something much less than what you are!


Do you love or hate social media? 

I love social media’s ability to connect people who are far away and to share great writing and ideas so that many people can engage with it. I hate its ability to consume so much of our lives and to turn us inward on ourselves.

What slang do you jus wish would go away? Suh dude. (I just don’t know how to respond. I’m awkward.)

What are your pet peeves? An unmade bed. Crumbs on the floor that get on your bare feet. Trash left in my car. (I’m sensing a theme about myself here…)

Your favorite band, musician, entertainer? Needtobreathe. Ben Rector. Hamilton (the musical).

When you order coffee for yourself, what do you order? When your mom offers to pay, what do you order? Good coffee is good coffee, no matter who’s paying… a vanilla iced cold brew! (Unless it’s February in Duluth… then, ANYTHING served hot!)

Shania Twain and a mom (seriously, though, who wouldn’t want to be those two things?)

My favorite class in college wasn’t really a class. It was called SOCIAL DANCE!! I loved learning how to do a bunch of different dances, Tango, Ballroom, Cha Cha, Swing, and the Fox Trot. Unfortunately I forgot how to do a bunch of them, but I would love to try again sometime!

My pet peeve? When people are on their phones when hanging out with people.

My Name is Katie Hellmann

I am from Holdingford, MN. I have two siblings, my brother is the oldest and he and his wife are expecting a little one any day now, next is my sister who is also married and she and her husband have a one year old son, and then I bring up the rear as the baby of the family.

I attended North Dakota State University from 2011-2015. I earned a degree in Mathematics and Mathematics Education. I am very excited for all the natural beauty that there is in Duluth, specifically the lakes, trees and hills, spending the last 6 years in North Dakota (four as a student and two as a missionary at University of Mary in Bismarck) these have been rare sightings. I am also very excited to get to meet all the students here! UMD is similar to NDSU in that there is a Newman Center with a bunch of awesome students involved and that all of these students are going out onto a secular campus, something that isn’t always easy in our society, and I am excited to help them discover some of the tools to be able to effectively share their faith with their peers.

Why did you become a FOCUS missionary?

I became a FOCUS missionary because I didn’t want to tell Jesus “no”. My Junior year of college I went on a mission trip to Mexico City and when I was there encountered the poorest of the poor. Meeting these people, I recognized that they had something that many of peers on campus were lacking, the joy of knowing and trusting in Jesus. Spending two weeks serving these women made me want to do something to aid my peers who had all they could materialistically want, but were still empty inside. When Jesus extended His invitation for me to have the opportunity to serve Him and aid people in encountering, I couldn’t say no.

What will you be doing on campus this year at UMD? 

This year at UMD I will be living authentic friendship with women on campus. Together, we will grow in prayer, relationship with Jesus and His Church, virtue, and love of others. I want to help the women on campus come to know the love of the Lord so well that they cannot help but share this love with everyone they know.

What was it like to be involved with FOCUS on your own campus?

At NDSU, FOCUS was a large program. At one point during my time there, there were over 100 students involved in discipleship! I got involved my freshman year and started leading a bible study my sophomore year. It was the first time in my college experience that I had friends whom I was confident loved me for me, with all my quirks and desires for holiness. The missionary at the head of my chain was so good at investing in me and in our friendship and I would not be where I am today without her love and example.

Who were the biggest influences in your spiritual maturity?

Advice I was given from a spiritual director my Junior year of college when I was freaking out about my future… “Katie, what happens if you graduate college and don’t have a plan? … Life will go on… In Heaven there is no concept of time, no past, nor future, only Eternal Presence with the Lord. Therefore, the only way to experience being in the Lord’s presence on Earth is to remain in the Present.” Remembering this has allowed me to trust in His goodness and provision by remaining in His presence in my daily life.

What do you love about being Catholic?

Everything! I love that it is Universal and regardless of where you go to mass it will be the same. I love the Communion of Saints and that we can ask real people who have been through our same struggles to pray for us and teach us how to live a life of holiness and virtue like they did. Lastly, I LOVE the fact that we get to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christy in the Eucharist every day.

Favorite Catholic books?

  • Interior Freedom by Jacques Philipe
  • Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West
  • Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly

Favorite Scripture verse?

“You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” –Isaiah 43:4

The goofiest trend right now? Scrunchies

When I was little, I dreamed of being an NBA player. That dream didn’t come true, but let’s get real–how many people really grow up to play in the NBA?

When I was little, my favorite hour of entertainment was Tom and Jerry.

St. Joseph is the man.

My Name is Andrew Helman

I am from Holdingford, MN. I have 3 siblings. My older sister is Married, then myself, then younger brother and finally a younger sister.

I attended North Dakota State University (NDSU), 2012-2016, Bachelors in psychology with minors in coaching and sociology. However, I’m excited to be in Duluth. I’m excited to be in a place where students are involved with their faith and actively striving to grow in their relationship with God. Im also very excited to be in Duluth in general because of all of the outdoor activities that are possible to do here. I haven’t really been here long enough or know enough about UMD to know much about similarities and differences but, its somewhat similar in size of school and also has a great Newman Center.

When I went to NDSU I chose to not have my faith a part of my life. It wasn’t until I was almost halfway through my sophomore year that I realized how empty I was iniside and that there was something missing in my life. By God’s incredible timing I was invited into a few great friendships at the NDSU Newman center and started to get more involved in my faith. October of my junior year I encountered Jesus Christ and His love and mercy for the first time at a Koinonia retreat. Afterword I recognized the increadible gift of the Catholic faith that I had come alive in and wanted to invite as many people as I could to have a life changing encounter like I did.

This year I will begin reaching out to and sharing the Gospel with male student athletes at UMD. Many athletes pour their entire lives into their sport and can easily forget their identity and a son or daughter of God. When we regain our identity and worth as a son or daughter of God become the best version of ourselves in mind, body and soul.

Being involved with FOCUS at UMD was an incredible way to grow in my own faith because of the availability of Bible Studies, discipleship, and the sacraments. It also was a community of students who were all striving to grow in holiness and gave me other men to lean on in my own growth. Finally, it was incredible to be a part of the mission of Jesus Christ with many other students who had completely given their life to Christ and were bringing the Gospel to others.

If you had nothing but Saturdays in life, what would you do?

Fish, play sports, be outdoors, and be a missionary.

What was your favorite course in college?

Either Psychology Sensation and perception or Industrial Organizational Psychology.

If you had to go back and tell something to your “college freshman self,” what would it be?

You are going to be Catholic much longer than anything else you will ever do so start investing in your faith.

What’s the worst thing college students do in their first semester of their freshman year?

Stop practicing their faith.

What is your OS on your phone? Android

Do you love or hate social media?

Love the idea, strongly dislike how its actually used.