Vanessa remembers the day well. She was in 6th grade and was helping her mom set up their church for a retreat event. Young adults from NET Ministries were visiting her parish for the day to encourage youth how to embrace their faith and cultivate a personal relationship with Christ. Vanessa showed some interest and was invited to join the other teenagers to participate in the day-long retreat. The joy and energy from that day stayed with Vanessa through middle school and high school. When it came time to choose a college, Vanessa found Saint Francis University and was excited to get involved with the Campus Ministry and grow in her faith.
Undecided on what to major in, but knowing she loved Math, Vanessa decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps and pursue a degree in computer science. In her Sophomore year, Vanessa added Mathematics to make it a double major.
Vanessa enjoys Computer Science and is currently working in an internship in the field. However, as graduation approached this spring, Vanessa decided to follow her heart and applied to participate in a nine-month mission with the NET Ministries group that she remembered visiting her parish 10 years ago. She was accepted and flies out to Minnesota on August 15th to begin her mission. “My vision in being a NETter (a NET missionary/on the NET team) is to take the love that God has blessed my life with, and to spread it to as many youth across the country as I can,” says Vanessa. “Today's youth face so many challenges. I believe that NET Ministries is trying to provide a solution and an answer to them, and I want to be a part of that solution.”
The NET's mission is to spread the Gospel to young people throughout the US. It is in the teenage years that most young Catholics decide whether or not they will continue to live out their Catholic faith. NET serves young people around that age in the hopes of allowing them not only to encounter Christ through the Gospel, but also to be a witness to how young people can live the faith. Next year, their goal is to reach 100,000 young people through the missionaries.
During Vanessa’s nine month commitment, she will spend the first five weeks in training, and then travel to various parishes across the country facilitating nearly 150 retreats like the one she attended at her parish. She’ll be staying with host families along the way and have food, healthcare, transportation, and a small stipend provided by NET ministries.
Vanessa is keeping an open mind and heart during her mission, and has no specific career plans after she returns home. Whether she works in the field of computer science, or continues exploring opportunities with her faith, one thing is certain, she’s confident in her decision to take this mission, and has overwhelming support from her family and friends.
Vanessa is fundraising to help offset the cost that NET ministries incurs. If you’re interested in supporting Vanessa and following along as she participates in the mission, please visit: https://mission.netusa.org/giving/ministry-partnership-development. Enter “Vanessa Valovage” as the missionary name.