Mission work is nothing new to Auburn native Holly Wayne. The 18-year-old member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish had already gone on mission trips to Mexico, Chicago and Atlanta by the time she graduated from high school. After graduation, however, Holly felt she was being called to do something more, so she decided to devote a year to voluntary mission work.
Since high school, Holly had been involved with Regnum Christi — an apostolic movement associated with the Legionaries of Christ priestly order — so she decided to join Regnum Christi’s International Volunteers program. Through this program, a volunteer’s destination is chosen for them, so Holly wasn’t sure whether she would be stationed in the United States.
In July, Holly completed mission work in the Bronx as part of the program’s training and formation, and in mid-August arrived in Dallas, Texas, which will be her home for the next year. She spends her weekdays working in after-school clubs for girls, who range in age from fourth-graders to high-school seniors.
These clubs are run by women religious involved in Regnum Christi. While the women religious often give talks about Catholicism and Catholic values, Holly and other volunteers plan and lead the girls in games, campfires, sports and other “fun” activities, she said.
“We try to incorporate Christ or Catholic values into the things that we do, but in a fun way,” Holly said.
Even casual conversations can help the girls deepen their faith and value it more, she added. On weekends the volunteers and women religious travel around the area leading retreats for the clubs. After the retreats end each Sunday, Holly said she enjoys having some down time with the other female volunteers and women religious she lives with. Both the coworkers and consecrated — as the volunteers and women religious are called — occasionally take the young girls on mission trips and to special events such as World Youth Day.
Holly didn’t join Regnum Christi’s volunteer program because it looked like fun, but because she felt it was something she needed to do and God wanted her to do, she said. Her family also played a big part in her decision to devote a year to helping others. Both of her parents are faithful Catholics, and her older sister spent a year as a coworker in Switzerland, she said.
“I guess she’s kind of like a role model for me,” Holly said.
Holly enjoys her work, although it is more challenging than she at first thought it would be. Although the days are long and tiring, and she’s always left with a feeling that she could be doing even more, she isn’t discouraged.
“I know I’m right where (God) wants me to be,” Holly said.
Holly’s mother, Debbie Wayne, admits that she was initially nervous when Holly went on her first mission trip during the spring of her junior year of high school. She soon realized, however, that the trip, which was to Mexico, was something Holly had to do.
“I felt that God was calling me to let her go; that he was calling her to do something,” Wayne said. “That trip to Mexico helped to form her, so she really wanted to do God’s will in a strong way. It was a real transforming time for her.”
Holly regularly sends letters home to her family, describing the situations she encounters and the people she meets. Wayne can tell that her daughter is growing and maturing just by reading the letters, which come straight from the heart, she said. In a letter she sent home while training in the Bronx, Holly described several of the poor and suffering people she’d met.
“I’m sorry because maybe I shouldn’t tell you this because it’s so sad, but someone needs to help these people,” Holly wrote in the letter. “Just pray, because there aren’t enough apostles to take care of them. Now I know why I’m doing this.”
At the completion of her year in Dallas, Holly plans to enroll in Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. She also plans to continue her involvement with Regnum Christi while she’s at the university, which has a large Regnum Christi group, she said. Although she doesn’t yet know what kind of ministry she will be involved in while she’s at the university, she will have a spiritual guide from Regnum Christi who will help her find her niche, she said.