Sarah McQuade, 22, graduated in May with a degree in biochemistry, but her first job out of college will be as a missionary in Idaho.
Her two-year missionary role with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at Boise State will be a far cry from the scientific studies she pursued at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, yet it’s a role McQuade describes as “a perfect fit for me.”
McQuade admitted she grew up confused about her faith. After her father died when she was 4, her uncle, Tom, a Protestant pastor and missionary, lived with her family. McQuade’s father’s family was Catholic, but many in her mother’s family had left the Catholic Church. She said her Uncle Tom had a huge influence on her faith and helped her to know and love Jesus.
Yet, these teachings at times did not align with the Catholic Church. In middle school, she was drawn to church services that featured “praise and worship,” and by high school, she debated with herself about being confirmed.
At the encouragement of Karin Frederickson, director of religious education at St. Teresa of Calcutta, North Lake, she attended the confirmation program and was confirmed.
Following confirmation, McQuade said, “My interest in the church grew and the gifts of the Holy Spirit grew.”
She eventually became involved with the St. Paul University Catholic Center while a student at UW-Madison and, with the guidance of Fr. Eric Nielsen, the center’s director, realized she was called to mission work, rather than the medical field that she was initially pursuing.
“What really pulled me in the direction of evangelization was the realization that I had talents that I could put to use in either field (medicine or ministry) but that investing in someone’s soul meant they’d have eternal well-being,” she said.
School and/or occupation:
I am a FOCUS missionary at Boise State. It’s a radically full-time job; I’m always available to the students and helping them live a life with Christ in every avenue.
What is your dream job?
What I am doing now is my dream job, being on campus and inviting students to grow in their relationship with God, through Bible study and mentorship. I can’t imagine a more rewarding job.
What’s on your iPod?
I have all kinds of genres of Christian music but also ‘90s and a little rap; my go-to Christian rock band is Skillet.
If you could dine with anyone, living of dead, who would it be and why?
I would probably pick St. Paul. I loved reading his letters and also his conversion story always blows my mind.
Who has made the biggest impact on you?
My mom, (Jill Gosse). We’ve been through quite a bit together. My father passed away when I was young and she helped me get through it. She developed my faith in God and helped me stick close to my faith.
What’s one thing that makes you unique?
I enjoy studying dead languages like Latin and biblical Hebrew. This past year I took a class on biblical Hebrew, reading Psalms and Genesis was our main emphasis. In high school, what I enjoyed most was translating the Mass from Latin. Someday I would like to learn Greek.
Describe a normal weekend:
Watching football in the fall; my favorite team is the Badgers. I never missed a Badger game in college, but last year I had to be at a wedding in Boston and had to watch the game on my phone in the bathroom during the reception. In the winter I like to ski. I grew up ski racing and coached in college for a junior ski racing team. I also like to water ski in the summer.
Favorite Bible story/Scripture passage/prayer:
I love the end of the crucifixion narrative. When the centurion and the Roman guards witness Jesus crucified, they exclaim, “I have truly seen the son of God.” I guess in a way it shows their humility after they killed Jesus; they see they were wrong and undergo a conversion.
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” – C.S. Lewis. We use that quote a lot in the mission field.
What is your favorite food, dessert?
Anything from Culvers – I’m sad there’s not one in Boise – but there’s one two hours away in Idaho Falls.
A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith:
All FOCUS missionaries have to fundraise their own salaries and mission expenses, so having to rely on God to support my financial needs through other people is a challenge. I am really shy, so asking people to support me is outside of my comfort zone.
Skiing in the winter and water-skiing during the summer. In Wisconsin, I would practice at Devil’s Head and for fun I would ski at Little Switzerland because it’s 15 minutes from my house.
What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life?
I guess it’s an afterlife accomplishment, but I want to get myself and my family to heaven.
How do you live your faith every day?
By being a Catholic missionary it makes it kind of easy. I attend Mass and pray a holy hour every day, silent reflection and Scripture reading. That’s the most important way to live and give Christ’s love away to others.
Name one guilty pleasure:
I like listening to the rapper Fetty Wap. His music is really good.