Catholic Herald staff
Studying at the University of Minnesota was Mariah Schultz’s post-secondary plan before a “conversion moment” changed her heart.
Now, the 2014 graduate of Spooner High School will spend one year sharing her faith as a member of a NET (National Evangelization Teams) Ministries.
An avid reader and self-professed “theater geek” — she enjoys dancing, singing and acting — Schultz works at the library in Spooner. She and her parents, Mark and Karen Schultz, are members of St. Francis de Sales, Spooner; she has two older sisters, Jeanine and Patryce.
Although Schultz, 17, loved her 10 years of Catholic education, it wasn’t until she went to a Steubenville youth conference in the Twin Cities that, as she puts it, “I made my faith my own.”
A moment of deepening faith shifted her priorities. She spoke to a Totus Tuus member about working with youths for a summer and, ultimately deciding she wanted a longer commitment, Schultz applied to join the Twin Cities archdiocese’s NET Ministries program.
For the next year, she’ll either be serving with a Home Team at one archdiocesan parish or moving around with a Travel Team. Either way, she’ll be helping to host retreats for young Catholics.
“Being able to share Christ … to share the hunger and thirst for Christ … is really cool,” she said.
She’s also looking forward to meeting more teens with open, faith-filled hearts. Meanwhile, she’s deferred her enrollment at the university.
Schultz loves working with children, so she might study to be a teacher or a youth leader, but she’s “letting God lead,” and wondering where he will take her.
“It was totally a God thing that I ended up doing NET,” she said. “I got a lot of peace from it.”
Schultz is also inspired by her eucharistic adoration partner, Jim Didier, whom she calls “a living testament to prayer and adoration.”
In his 70s, Didier has had two heart attacks and two strokes, according to Schultz, but his spiritual strength never flags. Instead of listening to the radio, he and his wife pray rosaries in the car.
“Both of them are just prayer warriors,” she said.
“He’s the grandpa I never got to spend much time with,” she added. “I’m so thankful that I get to spend an hour with him each week.”
Loree Nauertz, a youth leader at St. Francis and mother of six boys, has also “become a dear friend” and inspiration for Schultz.
“I love ‘em,” she said of the Nauertz family. “They’re great.”
Ever supportive, Schultz’s parents have been praying for their daughters’ futures since the girls’ childhood.
They are “the best parents I could have asked for,” said Schultz. “They are phenomenal people.”
As she prepares for a year-long mission in Minnesota, Schultz has something else on her mind. She’s discerning a vocation, wondering whether God wants her to become a nun or a wife and mother.
“I would be happy either way,” she thinks, but she’s unsure.
“Discerning is so hard,” she said.
“Awed” by the way priests and nuns give their lives to God, Schultz has prayed to God to change her heart if he wants her to be a nun, because she yearns to someday be a mother.