A Q&A with CORE Volunteer Natasha Troung

by Patti Eischen

The CSJ CORE (Charism, Outreach, Relationship, Experience) volunteer program provides young women, ages 20-35, with opportunities to engage with Sisters of St. Joseph and their lay associates and share in their mission and ministry. Directed by Sister Kathy Eiler, CORE provides experiences, space and time for young women to discern their next steps in life and engage in ministry opportunities where sisters or associates serve the people of God.

Meet Natasha Troung, our newest CORE volunteer. A St. Louis native of Vietnamese descent, Natasha moved into the Agape House in August 2017, living with Sisters Clare Bass, Janet Kuciejczyk and Mary McGlone to get the full experience of what living in community is like. She’s also volunteering at Marian Middle School, teaching a class, subbing, and working as a 5th grade teacher's aide. She’ll be a CORE volunteer until at least June 2018. 

How did you find out about CORE?

I first learned about CORE from Sister Linda Markway, the [former] vocation director sometime after graduate school in 2012. She invited me to several gatherings and events. She told me about CORE. I filed that away and thought I might want to do that someday.

How did you decide to become a part of the program?

I had been traveling quite a bit, teaching a year in Palestine, a year in Jordan. It has given me more time away from distractions to live with other sisters and to pray, creating time and space to hear God more.

Why is this program different than other volunteer programs?

The other programs I had considered didn’t offer living in community. Here, I get a sense of what it is like. It’s been a wonderful experience so far. 

What do you like best about your experience with CORE? I love that my house meets with the other sisters. We pray together. I just learned, too, that the Blessed Sacrament is in the house. That makes me so happy. Having one-on-one conversations with the sisters is great—I will often journal about it. I get to have opportunities for vocation events in the St. Louis area, like retreats. 

What have you learned so far in your experience with CORE?

I have learned that sisters can attend Katy Perry concerts! I went with Sister Clare, and she knew all the lyrics better than I did. I’ve learned that all the sisters have really amazing experiences yet they are so humble about it. Living in community has definitely given me a lot of insights on religious life. It has certainly deepened my spiritual life more.

What was your family’s reaction to your decision to live in community with CORE?

My mom was overjoyed! I had been traveling since 2011, so she was glad to have me back in St. Louis and not moving around. My dad just wants me to be happy.

What advice would you give to others who are looking for a time and place for discernment and volunteerism?

I would totally recommend this program. You get to live in community, and get your feet wet to see if it is right for you. The program allows for volunteering that matches your skills, experience and preferences with what the needs are out in the community. It is totally tailored to what you need and want to get out of the program.

For more information about the CORE program, contact Program Director Sister Kathy Eiler at 314-443-1234 or keiler@csjsl.orgLearn more. 

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