Mike was born and raised in Lahaina, Hawaii, and is our first volunteer from Hawaii! He will be serving at both Cristo Rey Kansas City High School and Bishop Sullivan Center. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2020 with a degree in neuroscience and Japanese. This year he will be applying for medical school where he hopes to continue his dream of becoming a doctor.
Why do you want to volunteer?
“I want to volunteer to serve and learn from communities different than my own. In my pursuit of being a doctor, I have seen how important it is to truly understand the people we serve so we can walk with them in compassionate solidarity. By interacting with underserved populations while living simply, I hope to understand those who need help them most. This year I am excited to work as a teacher and mentor so I can prepare myself to be a better doctor who empowers patients to be informed advocates for their own health.”
Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteer Ministry?
“Doing volunteer work has always been something I enjoyed, but I realized during my time in college that I had more to give. Joining Precious Blood Ministry I have the opportunity to help those in need in a sustained and personal way. By living out the Precious Blood Mission to build community and walk with those who suffer, I know I will be able to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. I am extremely excited to serve the Kansas City community, and I know with the support of Tim and the Precious Blood Ministry I will be well prepared to do so.”
What are you looking forward to most?
“I am excited to meet new people and I looked forward to building strong friendships along the way. This year will undoubtedly present me with challenges but I am excited to learn from them and grow from the experiences.”
Precious Blood Volunteers is excited to announce that four new volunteers will serve with us for the 2020-2021 volunteer cycle. We will again collaborate with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago with one volunteer and we will also continue our commitment to Kansas City with two volunteers. One of them will be serving at KC CARE Health Center, and another will be splitting his time between Cristo Rey and the Bishop Sullivan Center.
New for the program, our Kansas City volunteers will live in community at Jerusalem Farm in Northeast Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Province and Jerusalem Farm have a longstanding relationship and this partnership will be deepened and strengthened because of this arrangement. In previous years, our volunteers lived in community at Gaspar Mission House in Kansas City. We decided to have them live in a different community setting to maintain a safer environment for the priests living at Gaspar Mission House since we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Also new for this year, we are thrilled to announce a new placement at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco! Our volunteer at Most Holy Redeemer will be living in community with Father Matt Link, C.PP.S. Father Matt has been gracious in extending a welcome to our volunteer there.
We give thanks to God for this wonderful group of young people! Over the next few days, we will be introducing them on the Kansas City Province website and on social media. Orientation is starting this Saturday, July 25! Please keep them in your prayers throughout the year.
Current Precious Blood Volunteer, Martin Echtler, was recently featured on German TV. He was interviewed about how he has continued to follow his favorite German soccer club, FC Augsburg, while living and serving in Kansas City. The first video is from FC Augsburg and the other is from Deutsche Welle.
Martin is currently serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer at the Bishop Sullivan Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
You can apply to serve as a Precious Blood Volunteer at the Bishop Sullivan Center on our Apply Page.
by Martin Echtler, Precious Blood Volunteer 2017 Before I left my home in Munich to move to Kansas City I had a lot of different feelings and expectations regarding the Precious Blood Volunteer program and the United States in general. There were a lot of questions in my mind like “How it will be to work as a volunteer?” “Which people will I meet?” or “How will I deal with cultural borders or language limitations?” Besides these “big questions” there was another aspect, more ordinary, which was not really on my agenda in the run up to my journey – the question “How will I get around in Kansas City?” I was not worried about it, because I thought it would be like in Munich where a wide variety of different public transportation options makes it not too complicated to get from point A to point B. My view would change after a few days in the city, when I realized that most of the people drive their own car to get around. After realizing this I thought “Well, I don’t think it’s a big deal, because I’ve heard Kansas City has a new street car and a really good bus system.” After using the street car the first time my view changed a little bit. And after a few (long) times waiting at the bus stop my view changed a little bit more. My first conclusion was “Oh boy, it would be so much easier to have a car to get around.” But during the next months my point of view would change again. The more time I spent in Kansas City with different people at work, at home or somewhere else dealing with lots of different situations, the more I realized that indeed I don’t have a physical car, but I already sit in and drive another, special kind of “car.” At this point you might think “This weird German guy must be crazy, because he can see invisible cars.” But let me explain this within a poem I wrote. It deals with my time here as a volunteer in the Midwest of the United States and that it feels like a car ride – an inner car ride. I started at one point to “drive” and since then I’m “on the road”.
Always forward – straight ahead or taking curves, uphill or downhill, slow or fast.
Look to the rearview mirror from time to time. Look to the exterior mirror from time to time.
Watch the lane, watch the vehicles in front and behind, watch the oncoming traffic, watch the signs, watch planned destinations.
Pay attention to passengers, watch out for other vehicles.
Don’t exceed the speed limit.
Don’t lose sight of the goals – don’t miss exits.
The fastest ways are not necessarily the most beautiful. Beautiful ways lead also to destinations.
Don’t forget to watch the gas gauge. Don’t drive too long distances in a row – take brakes and recharge batteries for the onward journey.
Pass cars sometimes – let cars pass you sometimes.
Rev the engine sometimes, crash sometimes, repair or get repaired sometimes.
Stop sometimes and ask for directions – drive away sometimes and ask for a stop.
Focus your view on the horizon sometimes – focus your view on the steering wheel sometimes.
Escape to the front sometimes – let your gaze stay on the rearview mirror sometimes.
Take curves from time to time – and avoid it from time to time.
Sometimes it’s necessary to select one lane and sometimes it’s necessary to take the other – it is necessary to ignore obvious signs that wants to lead sometimes – it is necessary to consider hidden signs sometimes.
Let the engine howl sometimes – drive quietly sometimes.
Talk to your passengers sometimes – just listen to them sometimes.
Follow their advice sometimes – ignore them and follow your instinct sometimes.
Once in a while take a deep breath of air.
Once in a while dim your lights.
Wait sometimes and sometimes let wait.
Drive in circles sometimes – take exits sometimes.
Pick someone up sometimes – leave someone behind sometimes.
Face the sun, face the clouds, face the wind.
Sometimes being driven – sometimes drifting.
Now and then do not know further – now and then knowing with new knowledge again.
The few metaphors show that there are a lot of things you have to deal with when you’re “on the road” – even if you don’t own a physical car. Besides all the aspects I’ve named I’ve learned one very important lesson during my journey, which I want to emphasize at this point. Of course it’s important to look back and to plan next steps, but keep your main focus on the current street you’re driving through and the environment you’re passing right now. And also pay attention to the people who are driving with you just in this moment. Be aware about the current time, because the past is gone and the future is unwritten. A deep focus on the street you pass right now helps you to enjoy your ride more, it keeps you awake and prevents you from accidents. This consciousness let me “drive” through Kansas City without having a car. All the love, friendship, beauty, hospitality, open doors and smiling faces I’ve already passed on this journey make me grateful and happy! You can learn more about serving as a Precious Blood Volunteer by going to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org You can learn more about our placement at the Bishop Sullivan Center by going to www.preciousbloodkc.org/bishop-sullivan-center/.
Martin Echtler grew up in Bernbeuren, Germany, a village in rural Bavaria near the Austrian border. He currently resides in Munich, Germany. He will be serving for six months in Kansas City at Bishop Sullivan Center living in community at Gaspar Mission House. He has received a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science in human resource education & management along with Catholic theology studies from Ludwig-Maximillians University in Munich. He also has degrees in business management. Martin worked for several years in the banking industry in Germany before returning to school.
Why do you want to volunteer?
“During my time as a bank clerk in the Savings Bank, I was involved in account management for socially disadvantaged people. The Savings Bank in Germany has a public contract to enable bank business who are socially disadvantaged. For a few years I’ve been advising people with large social problems in a variety of financial topics. I’ve worked with these people gladly, because most of them were thankful and friendly, particularly when they’ve noticed that I counter them in a respectful manner and consequently take their problems seriously or rather take care about it. These experiences had a large impact on me. While I was working in the Savings Bank I realized more and more that the possibility to help socially disadvantaged people within this occupation is rather limited, because the bank’s main goal is to make a profit and not to provide social help. At many points this status had dissatisfied me. Based on these experiences I want to volunteer.”
Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers?
“The Precious Blood concerns – grow in faith, seek reconciliation, walk with those who suffer and build community – are very important concerns for my life, too. I identify myself with it. In addition to this I always wanted to do a service for the society abroad after the years at the university before I’ll start my career as teacher in Germany. Furthermore I’ve been working as volunteer in my church community for about two years now. This experience encouraged me, too.”
What are you looking forward to about your volunteer experience?
“I hope I can do good to others and gain sustainable experiences for my prospective life. For me it is going be a large change to move from Munich to Kansas City. I expect, that nearly everything will be new – and I’m looking forward to this. I’m sure, to become familiar with the American culture and to meet a variety of people from different cultures in a charitable environment will influence my life in a positive way. I’m sure, with God’s blessing it will be a great experience to be a Precious Blood Volunteer.”