Nineteen-year-old Lizzie Lanser feels like she’s called to service. She volunteers at her parish, St. Mary Visitation, Elm Grove, as a small group leader for the Ydisciple (young adult) program, at the Wisconsin Catholic Youth Rally and at Milwaukee meal programs. Last year, she also volunteered as a leader on the Totus Tuus team for Milwaukee.
Born and raised in Brookfield, the sophomore at Carroll University and second-youngest of four, loves volunteering. “It makes me happy to know that I am doing something freely to help others without asking for anything in return,” she wrote. “Yet, God awards me with peace and fulfillment, knowing that I am doing what he calls me to do in his service.”
School and/or occupation:
Sophomore student at Carroll University, leaning toward a degree in theology and writing or dietetics, and may be transferring next year to a school that offers these majors. I am also very passionate about music, and may minor in that.
What is your dream job?
To compose music and captivate the longing of the human heart would compose in itself a life worth giving. At the same time, I would love to write children’s books, particularly poems and short stories.
What’s on your iPod?
Alternative music like The Script, Judah and the Lion, The Oh Hello’s, and a few other artists. I might dip my ears here and there into the country beats, but I really like any song that is packed with meaning, even with the simplest of words. Also, because of my background in music, I really have an appreciation for choral scores, even film scores, and find inspiration listening to composers like Eric Whitacre. As far as Disney music goes, I’m ‘on my way’ to the Phil Collins Pandora Station.
If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
In the midst of all the heroes who have made it to the headlines of our history, there are those unknown side-stories that no one has heard before: The ordinary people that are actually extraordinary when they inspire you with their passion. I see these people, family and friends, every day! We wouldn’t even have to dine on fine china, so long as we can have a good time.
Who has made the biggest impact upon you?
A couple years ago, I had signed up for my first summer Steubenville Conference, but a couple days before, I was getting cold feet about going. My cousins were in town at the time and I wanted to be assured that the conference would be worthwhile if I was going to leave the family fun for a few days. My mom could tell I was unsure about the whole thing, and yet she respected my personal walk with God, encouraging me to think about it; to think about what God was proposing between him and I alone. Ever since going to the conference, my faith has been awakened, and it is people like my mom, in the moments of doubt and trial, who wait patiently on the Lord. It must be God living through her, to have that kind of strength every day, and it inspires me to live by the same source of grace.
What’s one thing that makes you unique:
A long time ago, in a hospital near, near to here … my name wasn’t Elizabeth. My parents were rushing to find a name that they could agree on, and they finally did agree on one. Though, throughout the months after my birth, my family was addressing me by my middle name, Elizabeth, instead of my first, just because they liked it more. Then after many months they found out that it was OK to change a name up to a year old, so they did!
Describe a normal weekend:
When school is in session, the week may be over but the weekend’s just begun, and those are the days to take a moment to reflect on the blessed chaos of the week and spend quality time with family. On Saturday nights, I usually spend time with my older sister who is taking a gap year after college. Brewing tea and gorging on Netflix shows. On Sunday evenings, I will head over to my parish where I, four other college students, and our youth minister lead a small group discipleship for high-schoolers.
Favorite Bible story/Scripture passage/prayer?
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” -1 Cor 15:10
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo da Vinci
What is your favorite food, dessert?
Spread some peanut butter over apple slices and I am in earthly paradise. When I think about it, I would prefer crunchy peanut butter alone but, in this case, the crunch of the apple is enough for me!
A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith:
Last summer, I had the opportunity to work on the Totus Tuus team for Milwaukee. It is basically a summer program for elementary school kids during the day and middle/high-schoolers at night, teaching the catechesis of the Catholic Church while still incorporating songs, skits and games for fun. Aside from a full day of teaching, our team would pray the Liturgy of the Hours, rosary, and Divine Mercy Chaplet together. What was challenging for me was being introduced to the Liturgy of the Hours. Where my team had already been exposed to that form of prayer regularly before, all of the different colored string bookmarks and necessary page-flipping of the prayer book caught me off-guard when trying to learn it. My team really pulled through with patience and guided me through learning it. Whatever be the trial, big or small, I have learned to take it with the grace God gives through other people.
Summertime hiking and camping with the family is a lot of fun, even the times when we’ve been rained out, it challenges us to deal peaceably with the spontaneous winds of change that Mother Earth pours on us. I also just go with the season, if there’s a spontaneous snowfall, as has happened too often with Wisconsin weather, it would be tempting to ask my sister if she “wants to build a snowman,” but she’d be outside as fast as I’d be.
What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life?
Whatever I do, I want to be the best I can be. And to live in a such way that a stranger from across the street would see what I am doing and be convinced that I couldn’t have done it alone! (reference my favorite Bible verse)
How do you live your faith every day?
I live my faith just by taking the moment as it comes, and doing what I know to be right; what I know to be good and true. Helping out around the house or volunteering as a small group leader, I am striving to do what I can with what I have. Prayer definitely helps get me through the day, along with adoration and Mass a couple times a week. My older sister and I slept late one Sunday and missed morning Mass, so we went that night. Now nightly Mass is our staple!
Name one guilty pleasure:
Irish, German and Peruvian blood, anything with potatoes does justice to my heritage and my taste buds. My grandma’s potato salad and cheesy potato casserole are well-received by me!