The 2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteers

We are excited to introduce the three new Precious Blood Volunteers! Over the next few days you’ll get to meet Aaron, Raechel, and Vincent at preciousbloodvolunteers.org.

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Raechel Kiesel

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Vincent Tedford

Raechel Kiesel and Vincent Tedford will be serving at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, Illinois. Raechel continues a tradition of University of Notre Dame alumni who have served with us. She comes from Indiana. Vincent graduated from Texas A&M University. He is the first graduate of Texas A&M to serve as a Precious Blood Volunteer, and our third volunteer from Texas.

2021-2022 Precious Blood Volunteer, Aaron Wise

Aaron Wise will be serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Aaron is our first volunteer from Case Western Reserve University. He continues in a long line of volunteers from the great state of Ohio.

Three volunteers from our previous batch lived in intentional Catholic communities in Chicago and Kansas City. This worked out well providing them places to share common life with people their own age. We are continuing with this for the 2021-2022 volunteer year. Raechel and Vincent will be living at Hope House, which is part of Port Ministries, in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago. Aaron will be living in community at Jerusalem Farm in Kansas City, deepening the long-term relationship the Kansas City Province has had with Jerusalem Farm.

They will begin their service next week during Orientation. Orientation begins on Monday, July 26 at Precious Blood Renewal Center in Liberty, Missouri. Please keep our new volunteers in your prayers.

To learn more about how you can grow in your faith by walking with others go to preciousbloodvolunteers.org

 

Hero of Small Deeds

by Koby Buth, Precious Blood Volunteer at KC CARE Heath Center

Growing up, I regularly attended youth ministry events titled something along the lines of, “Be a Hero for Jesus!” The message I heard at those events usually went something like this: “Jesus calls us to be moral exemplars in society. We need to stand out from our peers in a way that points to Christ and brings others to Him. By performing extraordinary acts with extraordinary courage, we will gather attention from society that we will then be able to redirect to Jesus.”

Part of the use of the word “Hero” was, of course, a means of appealing to our ten-year-old imagination: we could be Superman or Wonder Woman. I did not consider, however, how this appeals to our modern obsession with individualism, until I first heard the song “Helplessness Blues” by the band Fleet Foxes. As I contemplated the lyrics over time, the first verse has always been the most striking to me:

I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes,
unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery
serving something beyond me

While that verse could be interpreted as critiquing the Participation Trophy Phenomenon, I think it more clearly speaks to the desire to contribute in small, cooperative ways to a larger, more meaningful society. Those youth ministry events encourage great individual acts, not small, perhaps menial, acts that add up to something greater than we could do individually. I think that our youth ministers did not want to encourage those particular acts, primarily because they can feel menial. An accountant for a homeless shelter may not feel like she’s contributing much to the world, but that shelter would not exist for very long without her, leading to fewer people getting the services they need.

This volunteer year, I have often felt like a “cog in some great machinery,” which has in some ways left me a little unsatisfied. I have felt the need to begin some great project which will overhaul the way the clinic works and drastically improve the care for our patients. I would love to say that desire comes solely from the care I feel for our patients, but I think some of it comes from a desire to stand out from the crowd—to be a Hero for Jesus. In college, we often had speakers from small organizations come and speak about what caused them to start a nonprofit that helps with human trafficking or world hunger. I often wondered if, instead of having many small organizations dedicated to eradicating a huge social issue like human trafficking, having a few large ones would be able to mobilize more people and more resources. I wondered if people’s desire to be a Hero for Jesus by starting their own organization was a less efficient way of decreasing hunger and slavery in our world than joining a pre- existing one and adding their skills and talents to an already established nonprofit.

People will often say that the desire to be a cog in a machine is fueled by complacency. But I am learning to see the benefits to it. It allows good, helpful organiations to function smoothly. It helps you make significant changes in the world without burning yourself out hunting for the next great idea.

A few months ago, some street evangelists stopped Brooke (my wife, also a Precious Blood Volunteer) and I on our walk home and asked when we were saved. I thought, I don’t think salvation is a one-time thing, I think it’s a process, which is why Paul tells us “work out your salvation.” But, because I knew I would make my wife uncomfortable confronting street evange- lists, I said, “When I was around six.” He then asked, “Does your salvation make you want to go out and evangelize?” My answer was something along the lines of, “Actually, I feel like I usually want to show people what Christ is like rather than telling them.” We then told each other to have a good day and parted ways. These people were looking for big ways to serve Christ, which is good, but I’m trying to find consolation in doing small things, routine things to serve Christ, other people, and the broader creation.

Koby is a current Precious Blood Volunteer serving at KC CARE Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
To learn more about becoming a Precious Blood Volunteer go to www.preciousbloodvolunteers.org

Koby Buth with a patient at KC CARE Health Center


This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of the New Wine Press.

How I Learned to Drive Through Kansas City Without a Car

2017-2018 Volunteer Martin Echtler


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”.

The Ride

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.

Switch gears now and then – brake now and then.

Laugh sometimes, cry sometimes, sing sometimes, whisper sometimes, keep silent sometimes.

Drive aware – drive by yourself.

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/

Introducing the 2017-2018 Precious Blood Volunteers: Alia Sisson

2017-2018 Volunteer Alia Sisson


Alia Sisson was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton in 2013. Alia graduated from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law with her Juris Doctorate in 2016. She plans to serve the poor and practice public interest law as her vocation.  She was awarded for completing over 200 hours of pro bono student legal service. In her free time, she loves to sing and play guitar. Alia will be serving from September to at least June of 2018 and will serve in the domestic violence division of Legal Aid of Western Missouri.

  •  Why do you want to volunteer? 

“The following verse sums up my philosophy on volunteering: ‘Freely you have received, freely give’ (Matt 10:8). I have been given so much in this life that I haven’t earned, through God’s grace. Not everyone is so fortunate. I have the gifts of my time and education to freely give, which I hope can lend a hand to help get people back on their feet. We all need help from time to time, and I am happy to offer what I can to others in their time of need. Serving the poor reminds me to keep a grateful heart and a humble attitude.” 

  • Why do you want to volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers? 

“I want my faith and my vocation to be inextricably combined, with one breathing life into the other. Missionaries of the Precious Blood represents the highest values to which I aspire, especially walking with those who suffer. I went to law school to be able to help those in need to the best of my ability, and working at Legal Aid of Western Missouri will ensure I can do just that.  
Recognizing the inherent dignity in every human life, no matter the circumstances, is truly loving our neighbor. It is easy to love those like us, but loving those who are most unlike us is what Christians are called to do. As a Precious Blood volunteer I will seek to help reconcile broken bonds in the Kansas City community and build bridges where there is hopelessness. Along the way, I look forward to learning a great deal from those I will work with.” 

  • What are you looking forward to about your volunteer experience?

“This volunteer experience offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give service where it is truly needed. I am eager to work with clients that I will hopefully be able to help in a deeply meaningful way – to find or keep their housing and stay safely off the streets. I am also looking forward to the freedom from material distraction that living minimally in a faith community offers. By volunteering, I hope to grow my heart and my skills as a lawyer. I look forward to forging friendships with my fellow volunteers, the priests we live with, and the Kansas City community as a whole. (I also hope to improve on my cooking skills whenever I make dinner for the household!)”

Introducing the 2017-2018 Precious Blood Volunteers: Martin Echtler

2017-2018 Volunteer Martin Echtler


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.”