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Miege grad talks sports, faith and FOCUS

Former Bishop Miege and K-State graduate McKenzi Weber relaxes during some downtime. Weber is currently serving as a FOCUS missionary at South Dakota School of the Mines in Rapid City. SUBMITTED PHOTO

With former K-State football player Stan Weber as a dad, it’s no surprise that McKenzi Weber is driven. She attended Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park and earned a volleyball scholarship to K-State University in Manhattan.

After graduation, McKenzi soon made the radical decision to accept a position as a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary — a commitment to spend two years evangelizing her peers and fundraising her salary. She is currently serving at South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City.

Q. How did attending Bishop Miege shape your Catholic identity?

A. Since it has a diverse population, Bishop Miege taught me the importance of embracing different cultures that reflect and build up the universal Catholic Church. Most of my friends were Hispanic, which opened my eyes to the beauty and necessity of ethnic diversity. Bishop Miege is a high-performing school — in athletics and academics — which pushed me to pursue excellence. I also appreciated the clarity from instructors on the teachings of the church.

Q. What did your family do to instill a solid foundation for your faith?

A. Through their everyday actions, my parents taught me in the way of Christ and with the Bible as our foundation. We knew that to be successful in all areas, we needed to follow Christ. They stressed the importance of the sacraments, by encouraging us to go to confession, pray the rosary as a family and never miss Mass.

Q. In college, how did you balance sports, academics and your faith, and how did your faith change?

A. My brothers played sports and were great models to reinforce that school, faith and athletics were the three most important things to pursue each day. As I grew in my love for Christ, it was easier to make him a priority and lead all of my actions. In college, when I walked into class or on the court, I thanked God for the opportunity to be there.

Most of my friends were sorority sisters who were Protestants and challenged me to better explain Catholic doctrine. FOCUS arrived my junior year and set the campus on fire! The missionaries invested deeply in students. I participated in a FOCUS Greek Bible study and led one my senior year. We had almost 20 girls in discipleship.

Q. Why did you decide to become a FOCUS missionary, and what do you hope to achieve?

A. During the years of rigorous academic and training schedules, student-athletes need virtuous role models, so I want to help serve those needs through Varsity Catholic. Many define themselves by their sport, instead of our Creator, who gave them their incredible gifts and talents. I encourage students to understand their identity needs to be grounded in Christ.

My heart is most filled and alive with athletics and Jesus. I want to help women grow deeper in faith and share the Gospel, which is necessary for the domestic church to be strong again. I strive to reinforce the concepts of humility, empathy and interest in others — and to have Christ at the center of one’s heart. I’m also encouraging them to serve others beyond the local community. Next summer, I’m leading a FOCUS mission trip along the Camino de Santiago.

Q. What has surprised you about serving at South Dakota School of Mines?

A. The campus chaplain encourages everyone to be led by the Holy Spirit, which is a huge inspiration. Most of the students I work with through Varsity Catholic outreach enjoy being outdoors, so we connect through hiking. Many students have never been encouraged to learn beyond the surface level. I’m encouraging them to dig into the big questions of life —why we’re here, who created us and how to live virtuously and share the Gospel.

Q. How are you navigating the challenges of evangelizing during COVID-19?

A. We’re working closely with the campus ministry to follow the university, local and state COVID-19 regulations. We’ve been blessed to be able to continue to interact with students, but we can’t have large events. We are building strong friendships we pray will continue through online Bible studies and discipleship if we go fully virtual. We’re also excited for the interactive SEEK21 event, Feb. 4 – 7, to encourage students to discuss the big questions in life about joy, peace, hope and salvation.

For more information on Weber, go to her FOCUS page at: www.focus.org/missionaries/mckenzi-weber.

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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