Why you want to know Veronica Frederick: Veronica, who is a database administrator at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, served as Sacred Heart’s youth director from 2002-2014. She has led three mission trips to Esquipulas, Guatemala. She has now transitioned to serving as Sacred Heart’s mission outreach coordinator.
Parish: Sacred Heart
Family: Married to Jim for 30 years; two daughters, Brook, 26, and Nicole, 22. Brook and her husband Josh have two children, a 5-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son.
IN HER OWN WORDS
Have you been Catholic all your life?
I was born in Texas and baptized as an infant. When I was 4, my family moved to Scranton, Ark. After I got married we moved to Charleston, where we raised our daughters in the Sacred Heart parish community.
What feeds you spiritually?
Although there are many things that feed me spiritually at home, I have grown most through my three trips to the Franciscan orphanage in Esquipulas, Guatemala, as part of the Partners in Benedictine Education program. I’ve made personal connections with the sisters and many of the children and have developed a devotion and passion to help them. I feel that God has sent me there for a reason.
How did your parish get involved with mission work in Guatemala?
Jennifer Verkamp, a then-college student in our parish, had visited Guatemala and encouraged me to lead a parish mission trip with the youth in 2013. I’m not an outgoing person, and I’d never been outside the country. I know very little Spanish. I didn’t feel comfortable leading a youth group on an international trip, but our youth and parents were very enthusiastic. We have had as many family members as students on our three trips in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
What changed your heart during your visit?
I saw how eye-opening and humbling the mission trips were for our youth as well as the rest of us. It’s given our youth more appreciation for things we’ve always taken for granted. The sisters do so much with so little with lots of faith and joy. The children are so happy to see us, because as loving as the sisters are, they are limited by time and all their responsibilities. Sacred Heart youth visit every other year, but I hope I can organize yearly trips, perhaps with other parishes.
What do you do as mission outreach coordinator?
So far we are just focused on Guatemala, but I am open to go wherever God leads me. I wouldn’t have chosen this mission itself but God taught me to love it. Some parishioners don’t understand it, but the Catholic Church is a mission church, and our mission field is the whole world. For the last two years we’ve gotten Christmas gifts for the children, gently used Christmas outfits and a special gift for each one. This year I bought the gifts in advance, and after we had our parents’ night out fundraiser we earned almost everything I’d sent. That told me it was a God thing — he’s doing it and that’s what keeps me going.
We try to make missions come alive by doing slideshows and presentations after our trips, talking about specific kids to make their struggles real. We have posters in our hall and are going to start putting articles in the bulletin keeping everyone updated.
How did your hobby of making rosaries inspire you of more ways to help?
I started making rosaries and decided to bring supplies on my next trip so that the girls could learn how to make them. I know they would take the idea and make them more beautiful. We could also teach them sewing if the orphanage had a sewing machine. This would help make the orphanage more self-supporting.
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