By Eric Brooks
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…’” (Mt 28:18 – 19)
“’Hear then the parable of the sower… As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understand it; he indeed bears fruit, and yield, in one case a hundredfold…” (Mt 13:18, 23)
Makenna Freeman is a recent graduate of Bishop Ready High School and a former student at Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s school. It was at our parochial school and as a member of the larger OLPH community that Makenna had the foundation of her faith laid. She was “encouraged to let me know Jesus” and the seeds of her personal faith journey were sown. During her 6th and 7th grades Makenna first began to “know the person of Jesus” and was given more opportunities to develop her faith through retreats, summer camps, and other activities.
She progressed through the Sacraments of Initiation, and by the time Makenna was nearing Confirmation she was “really excited.” In fact, she remembers telling a friend how much she was looking forward to “marrying my faith.” At Bishop Ready Makenna found continuing to develop her faith was more challenging as there were fewer structured opportunities. As a result, a dozen students including Makenna formed a prayer group, giving up free time during their lunches because “we wanted to be with Jesus.”
Makenna also speaks very highly of the Life Teen group here at Our Lady, “They are amazing!” During times at Bishop Ready when she found her own faith faltering, she knew she could return every week and be part of that community. They offered support, accountability, and a shared group of teens who are as passionate about their own faith as Makenna is of hers. All these experiences through high school continued to lay the seeds of Makenna’s personal faith.
With graduation nearing, Makenna knew that she wanted to spend “a year with Jesus” before continuing her academic studies. She explored several different missionary groups including the National Evangelization Teams (NET), a Catholic organization based out of Minnesota. Makenna first became aware of NET when they conducted spiritual retreats for the Our Lady middle school students. As she describes it, “I always cry at Adoration [of the Blessed Sacrament]” but at the time was not aware of why she became so emotional. During one of those NET retreats further seeds were planted as Makenna realized that during Adoration she was “getting to know Jesus in a personal way.”
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door. I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me.” (Rev 3:20) Makenna was making the conscious decision to “open the door” and invite Christ into her life.
Her senior year Makenna applied to NET and was accepted, but still was unsure if this was the best fit for her. That spring NET was conducting another retreat at Our Lady of Perpetual Help school and Makenna’s mother, Julie Freeman the OLPH school principal, agreed to host the team members at their home for the night. Makenna was immediately struck by “how on fire they are in their faith and how intentional.” Makenna discussed her application with those team members and their response was immediately “you have to do this.”
Having previously interviewed Julie Freeman I am struck by how both mother and daughter, at different times, were facing important decisions in their lives. They were both completely unsure of accepting the opportunities being offered and Jesus worked through others in their lives saying the exact same thing, “you have to do this.”
Makenna decided to accept the NET position and will be travelling to Minnesota this August to attend several weeks of training. Following that she will be assigned to a team of approximately ten missionaries and then for the next nine months will be living out of a van. Each team is assigned a route and they travel from school to school conducting retreats for primarily middle school students. The average age of “Netters” is 18 to 24 and this allows them to interact with more easily with and understand the middle schoolers at their retreats. With her own seeds now bearing fruit, Makenna’s goal for the next year will be to sow new seeds in these young people.
She is most looking forward to the community of the team. Just as with her high school prayer group and Our Lady’s Life Teen Makenna wants to be surrounded by peers who are just as passionate in their faith as she is with her own. Conversely, she has been warned that life of a NET missionary is physically grueling and Makenna is not particularly a morning person. The teams wake early, travel long hours in their vans, and sleep on couches and sleeping bags. All the while they are expected to be enthusiastic and compassionate with the kids at their retreats. Makenna does hope the routine instills in her some discipline and consistency.
Following her time with NET Makenna is considering attending an art college, perhaps the local Columbus College of Art & Design. She enjoys drawing in ink and painting and is actually running a “little art camp” out of her parents’ home this summer. However, Makenna also knows she will soon be spending a year entirely with Jesus and will use that opportunity for contemplation and prayer on her future. She is also learning to play the piano and loves watching movies with her family.
Makenna describes to me a concept she would like to embody, being a Woman of Valor in reference to Proverbs 31. When her alarm clock soon goes off at 7:00am (regardless of not being a morning person) Makenna wants to get up and dedicate her day to work, charity, and evangelization with NET. To dedicate herself to strength, dignity, and wisdom. “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is in vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Prov 31:30 – 31)
NET does rely on donations to help fund its 170 yearly missionaries and Makenna is deeply thankful for the generosity our parish has already shown her.
If you feel called to partner with Makenna and can help support the mission here.
- Pledge monthly or make a one time donation
- Find “I’d like to partner with”, scroll to Makenna Freeman
- Put in your info, be sure to put in your email to stay updated on the journey!