CSW Profile: Fenwick experience brought Eckart back
By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph
Even students who enjoy the high school experience typically can’t wait to leave upon graduation. For Meg Eckart, now the director of campus ministry at Bishop Fenwick High School, she felt a call to come back.
Eckart, 25, is in her second year as Fenwick’s campus ministry director. Her entire educational life has taken place in Catholic schools. She’s an alum of Middletown’s John XXIII grade school and graduated from Fenwick in 2007 before going on to the University of Dayton for college.
The youngest of three siblings, Eckart said the Catholic school experience, particularly at Fenwick, helped her to take ownership of her faith.
“It opened my eyes to Catholic social teaching and what it means to live my faith in the world,” she said. “It empowered me by giving me opportunities to take leadership in my faith.
“As an adult I can see how much my parents valued a Catholic education and the sacrifices they made to make sure that was a part of our education,” Eckart added.
Her time at John XXIII and Fenwick made Eckart want to continue her education in a Catholic setting.
“Coming from a Catholic high school really made me look at a Catholic college just because you can tell a difference in the sense of community at a Catholic school,” she said. “That spurred me to want to do high school ministry.”
At Dayton, Eckart got involved in campus ministry and in her junior year became a Lay Marianist.
As her faith developed at Dayton, Eckart got a sense of the universal church. She went on a mission trip to Mexico and after graduation, she taught for two years at a Catholic orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy in Guyana, an underdeveloped South American nation. Eckart called the experience, “very transformative.”
“They had different traditions, I would say, but it was so powerful to see the universality of the church and how at its essence our prayers were the same,” she said.
Even though she had a positive experience at Fenwick, Eckart sensed that high school could be a time of more faith development for students. That is what made her seek a career in campus ministry.
“Having such a powerful faith experience in college kind of left me wondering, where was that experience when I was in high school,” she said. “I felt called to minister to high school-aged students and help them take ownership of their faith and develop their faith life.”
Eckhart, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Dayton, said Catholic high school students are seeking an encounter with God. She advised the faithful that the best way to reach Catholic youth is by living the faith more fully.
“I think that they are seeking a personal encounter or relationship with God and really seeking to know who God is beyond the textbook answer,” Eckart said. “I think high school-age students pick up a lot on what we do, and what we say, and how we live what we believe. I think the ministry of presence is really important and just being conscious of how every action and decision reflect what you believe.”
This profile of a Catholic high school graduate originally appeared in the February 2015 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.