For Ryan McGrail taking a “gap” year has made all the difference in his life.
His gap occurred between his high school graduation at Naperville North in Illinois in 2014 and attending DePaul University in Chicago. During that year off, McGrail spent his time in a small town in Tuscany, Italy, involved in the Focolare movement. Founded on the charism of unity, McGrail worked, farmed and lived in communion with sisters, brothers and priests who formed their own community of faith.
“It was after this year that I knew I wanted to have that close relationship with God,” McGrail said.
Back in the states, he enrolled at DePaul and continued to seek out opportunities to enrich his faith and the lives of others. He worked with the Catholic youth ministry and the Vincentians on campus to serve the poor. He helped the homeless in Denver and underprivileged children in Chicago.
When McGrail graduated in 2016 with a degree in marketing and a minor in category management, he was set to launch his career. But, once again, he felt called to serve with the Focolare movement. He went back to their headquarters in Rome and lived there for five months distributing information and planning events such as the World Youth Day post-event in Slovakia and assisting with Syrian refugees.
Since returning, McGrail, 24, has taken a position with Pepsi Co. in northwest Arkansas and now volunteers his time at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers as a Life Teen Bible study leader working with ninth-grade boys.
• What celebrity would you like to meet and why?
“Elon Musk. In my opinion he is potentially the most interesting person of our time. He is an incredible businessman and scientist, while also seeming to hold intentions of helping our planet.”
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