Kevin Azanza and Jessica Nyden both believe faith formation and service should extend beyond the high school years. As high school students, both were heavily involved at their home parish, St. Vincent de Paul in Rogers, in Edge and Life Teen ministries, Bible studies and volunteering at the parish food pantry. Now that they are college students, both want to promote the same level of commitment for young adults.
Along with associate pastor Father Martin Siebold, the two are working to encourage participation in Unchained, a faith group for college students. Every week the group meets to discuss a different topic, participate in an activity or meet for a potluck.
“When we graduated from high school,” said Nyden, 19, a third-year liberal arts student at Northwest Arkansas Community College, “there wasn’t anything for college-age kids. I really wanted to serve but to also be refueling my faith life. While we serve our parish, Unchained refuels us.”
Azanza, 20, a political science major with a minor in communications at the University of Arkansas, has served on the confirmation team at the parish for three years and he believes giving back is important.
“Growing up, I always had people invested in me,” he said. “I just feel it is now my time to invest in others.”
But being involved in their parish has its perks. The two met while working the same shift at the parish food pantry and started dating two years ago.
Serving separately as group leaders for boy and girl Edge groups, both Azanza and Nyden have been with their students since the students were in sixth grade. Now that the students are going into the eighth grade, the couple is equally committed to following their groups into high school.
“It’s a commitment and a goal for us to stay involved and see our Edge students grow up,” Nyden said.
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