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Meet Missionaries Who Do What They Love and Love What They Do!

Talking about building a career around your lifestyle, and not the other way around…

 

Schyler is a third-year and Paul is a second-year missionary. Along with three other full-time missionaries, they help students grow in fellowship and in faith. They provide students with new perspectives and different ways to live out their Catholic faith in Isla Vista, a place where it can be hard to know when and how to say “no” in situations that would otherwise leave them unfulfilled.

1. Where did you serve before UCSB?

Schyler: UCSB was the first campus I got sent to as a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Missionary. Before FOCUS, I spent a year living and working in Denver after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder! I am currently serving my third year here at UCSB!

Paul: I served at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff before coming to UCSB.

2. Describe the moment when you thought, “I want to be a missionary.”

Schyler: It was my senior year. My first two years of college I lived the party life, searching for fulfillment in things that ultimately left me feeling empty – drinking, the hookup culture, surface level friendships, and the like. My junior year a sorority sister invited me on a retreat where I experienced God’s love in a radical and personal way. I began to live my life differently and I started to feel real and authentic joy. The community I now found myself in was bright and alive. But I worried that it was a bubble, and beyond it no one would really understand how to live their life for Christ. Then I attended a SEEK Conference winter break of my senior year. 10,000 Catholic College students from around the country were brought together because of the burning in their hearts for a life full of meaning and adventure. It was then that something, rather someone, tugged on my heart. That desire to be a missionary. To drop everything and live for something bigger than myself. To be a sincere gift of self to those who needed to know how deeply loved they were by God. And so in a moment surrounded by 10,000 young and on fire Catholics, praying before the Lord, my heart spoke from the depths, “I want to be a missionary.”

Paul: I had always entertained the idea of being a missionary, but I think the exact moment is when I got offered the position and I realized “Yes…I am going to say yes to you, Lord.”

 

3. What’s your favorite part about working full time as a missionary?

Schyler: My favorite part about working full time as a missionary is the incredible people I get to encounter. To know them and to love them. To remind them that they are known and loved. To be there for them through joy, suffering, trials, fun, and just life! To see someone come alive in Christ. For the women I get to call friends, to see them become convicted in their worth and dignity and then them desiring to share that with others. Striving to live a virtuous life alongside them. To become saints with them because we were made for greatness! Being stretched and pushed as I learn how to love in new ways. To look back and see how much I’ve grown. To rest in God’s love for me.

Paul: My favorite part is just being able to enter into people’s lives and share my own life with them. And just forming a beautiful, virtuous friendship that happens naturally as you challenge each other to become better and striving for holiness.

4. So there’s a 2-year commitment to becoming a missionary and this is one reason why most students turn down the job offer. They have this fear of missing out: missing out on romantic relationships or on starting a career. Do you still have this fear and what helps you not fear for the future?

Schyler: I absolutely had this fear when I first gave my “yes” to become a missionary, but then those fears disappear as you learn to abandon your life into the hands of a God who truly wants your ultimate happiness and what’s best for you. He doesn’t want you to miss out anything, He wants to provide for you. He knows that you were made to love and be loved. He’s not a puppet master trying to trick you into missing out on your future husband or wife or an awesome job. Your trust increases and your fears go away because you realize you’re not missing out on anything, you’re actually living the greatest adventure possible! You see your friends dissatisfied and lonely as they work in the secular workplace. They’re stuck in jobs where they’re simply just trying “to get through the day”. And you’re loving every minute of your day! And then as your two years come to a close you realize you want to do a third and maybe even more after that because you’ve found a life and career as a missionary that allows for the most growth, joy, and fulfillment than any other career out there. You didn’t miss out on anything. You took the leap and let God transform your fears. And then God provides the full life you long for!

Paul: I don’t think it is a fear. God doesn’t operate on the premise of ‘I am going to give you the perfect job or the perfect spouse while you don’t have the ability to say yes to that’. So I am not afraid of that. I think that is because you can’t spend time living in the future. You have to take each day as it comes, with keeping an eye on the future.

5. What’s so unique about being a missionary in IV compare to other campuses?

Schyler: Isla Vista is incredibly unique! I thought Boulder was a small college town but IV definitely takes the cake. No where else will you find one square mile of 25,000 college students with the ocean as their backyard! And it’s crazy because everyone is experiencing this beauty around them but they’re unaware of the Creator of this beauty. A night on DP might be pleasurable, but it’s only fleeting. Even in all of its craziness and chaos, I do love Isla Vista. I love it for its beauty, its uniqueness, its energy. I love it because it’s filled with people who are passionate and desirous of life to the fullest. I’m blessed that I get to encounter these people, to direct their hearts toward true fulfillment as they search for truth and meaning.

Paul: I think this is unique just because of the proximity. We live essentially on campus, in the midst of thousands of students. Which is awesome! It allows us to be a present and meet people where they are!  

6. If you can say one thing to graduating seniors, what would it be?

Schyler: Saint John Paul II says it best: “Be not afraid!” Be saints in a world thirsting for truth, beauty, and goodness, but settling for counterfeits. Do what’s right, not what’s comfortable. Be the best version of who you were made to be, not a second class version of someone else. Find yourself through selflessness as you strive to be a sincere gift of self. As Saint Mother Teresa said “Do small things with great love!”

Paul: I would say…try and find your true identity. It isn’t “the guy who had the best house” or the blank major with a 4.2 GPA. In the end, that stuff doesn’t really matter. Recognize that those things help to shape and influence you, but your true identity is being a son or daughter of God. And everything else in comparison just doesn’t compare. When a person can see that and truly believe that, they know that even if they lose a job or have to move back home that doesn’t change the most important thing about them…being a beloved daughter or son of God.

Jacelyn is an Editorial Intern for Her Campus. She was born in Da Nang, Vietnam and grew up in Garden Grove, California. She is a fifth year at UCSB studying Biological Sciences and Applied Psychology. She enjoys playing water sports and trying all kinds of video and photoediting softwares. With a passion in healthcare, she plans on using her visual literacy to pursue public health as a career after graduation. Les go!  
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