Mariah Butcher, 18, a St. Bernadette parishioner and Eveling Ortega, 26, a St. Joan of Arc parishioner, are two local young adult missionaries joining 130 of their peers nationwide for a year of service through NET Ministries. They will travel in one of 12 teams in routes across the country to share the Gospel with parish and school youth and families through retreats and personal encounters.
Missionaries are often high school or college graduates. Others break in the middle of college to serve. Each of them must raise $5,000 before reporting for duty Aug. 15 to cover part of their living expenses. The National Evangelization Teams reach some 60,000 young people in 100 dioceses across the country.
The Phoenix Diocese has 26 NET alumni living locally, several who directly serve area Catholics. Two alumni are now Poor Clare Sisters. Butcher will discern the best college to prepare her for life as a kindergarten teacher while serving with NET Ministries and Ortega will discern pursuing a degree in theology.
Go to www.netusa.org to make a tax-deductible donation. Donors can designate a specific team member. Butcher will hold a benefit carwash July 27 at Valley Childcare Learning Center, 4041 E. Cactus Road in Phoenix.
UPDATE July 16
The Catholic Sun confirmed that Christi Boujikian, a parishioner at St. Anne Parish in Gilbert who was accepted to NET’s outreach in Ireland, is also raising money. Boujikian committed to raising $6,000 before she leaves in August. Donations for her journey can also be made through www.netusa.org/donate and denoting her name in the comments box.
Boujikian, 23, who earned a degree in marketing a year ago, said she applied to NET Ireland after speaking with Catholic Answers’ Matt Fradd who helped launch the ministry in the Emerald Isle. NET Ireland reaches 7,000 youth per year.
If NET Ireland sounds familiar, it might be because Taylor McColgan, a student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, is joining the team too. She was the subject of a #FundingFriday initiative through the blog of well-known Catholic couple Matt and Collen Swaim.
NET also serves in Australia and Canada. Here’s an archived Life Teen interview when Fradd served with NET Canada. All told, several hundred NET youth missionaries spend an academic year largely living on the road in order to bring junior high and high school teenagers closer to Christ.
The Diocese of Phoenix has NET alumni from three of the four countries where NET Ministries International serves.