Max Voboril has been volunteering at the Soles for Catholic Education Walk every fall since he was a freshman at Pius XI High School. Initially, it was a great way for the teenager to score volunteer hours, drive a golf cart and eat some free subs.

But four years later, Voboril, now 19 and a freshman at Marquette University, is still one of the organizers’ go-to volunteers — and his own involvement with the walk, he said, has become a cherished personal tradition and a way to honor the education and formation he received both at Pius and at St. Joseph Parish School in Wauwatosa.

“I just like the atmosphere. Everybody’s in good spirits, everybody’s high-fiving,” he said. “It’s really cool seeing all the Catholic pride.”

The sense of community amongst others who are energized about their faith is what has kept him keen to return each year.

“You get to meet a lot of people who have similar ideals and interests as you. If you’re not interested in your faith, you’re not volunteering for the Catholic Church,” he said.

Faith has always been an important part of his life, and one that he said is “exponentially growing” each year. Catholic education has played an important role in that spiritual development, he said — so much so that he only considered Catholic universities when discerning where to attend college.

“Pope Pius has this quote: ‘There can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education,’” he said. “That’s something that I live by a lot. You need a religious aspect to education for it to be effective. It’s not something that’s really taught in public school. It’s taught in theology classes.”

Voboril hopes to apply to law school and is planning to study business at Marquette University, where he began as a student this fall.

“Being at Marquette now, I’ve talked to Catholic kids from Chicago, from Connecticut, from California, and one of the things I like about Milwaukee is that it’s a big city with a small-town feel, especially with the Catholic community. I know a lot of different people from a lot of different churches, from basketball and forensics and sports in middle school. I’ll be walking around campus and I’ll see kids I’ve known since first grade through sports.”

Actually, Catholic education played a role in Voboril’s life even before he was born — his parents, Dan and Geri, met as teachers in a Catholic school. Geri is now an instructor at the Marquette University College of Nursing and Dan recently completed a stint in public schools to take a job teaching social studies at Catholic Central High School — “he missed Catholic education,” said his son.

This year, like every year, Voboril and his high school friends will be among the first to arrive at the Mount Mary campus on the morning of the walk, usually around 5 a.m., to help set up tents and distribute supplies. They will stay long after the walkers have left to clean up — sometimes as late as 3 p.m. They get a break in the middle of the day while the attendees are on the walk, where they will get a chance to relax — and shoot the breeze about how much their respective alma maters raised.

“My friend Josh went to St. Boniface so we fight about who was better,” he said. “There’s definitely a bragging rights thing.”