The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is pleased to welcome five missionaries from the Culture Project for service in our local Church. They are Amber Charles, Marshall Fike, Lynsey Lucas, Tim McNeil, and Nicky Orozco.
The Culture Project was founded by Ms. Cristina Barba Whalen, a graduate of Archbishop John Carroll High School. It is an initiative of young people set out to restore culture through the experience of virtue.
Five full-time Culture Project missionaries will build on the work of the inaugural Philadelphia missionary team that arrived in 2022. The new cohort will dedicate the coming year to educating young people about the importance of self-respect and living chaste lives. Their work is rooted in Catholic social teaching and Saint John Paul II’s legendary work, Theology of the Body.
Catholic Philly recently connected with Nicky Orozco, a Culture Project assistant team leader and first year missionary from New Hampshire to learn more about the initiative and how she became attracted to its mission.
Q: Can you describe the hospitality you received when you arrived in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?
A: The Archdiocese has been incredibly warm and hospitable. So many administrative offices, parishes, and schools have extended invitations to us for events, treated us to meals, and made themselves available to any needs we may have.
Q: How did you receive God’s Call to be a Missionary with the Culture Project?
After graduating from college, I was in the middle of looking for a social work job when I got a call from the Culture Project’s recruitment manager. She explained the Culture Project’s mission and told me how it was grounded in Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. As she spoke to me on the phone, my heart felt like it was burning because she was verbalizing the very things I was passionate about. After that call, I was given the opportunity to discern becoming a missionary during the Culture Project’s June Training session. While I was there, I received more consolation from the Lord that this was where He wanted me to be.
Q: What is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy in the work you are doing?
One of the greatest challenges of being here on mission is how much it forces you to reflect on your own life and constantly make the necessary changes in order to keep striving for a life of virtue. One of the greatest joys that I’ve experienced while doing this work is getting to answer questions and have conversations with the teens in the classroom. Getting to hear their thoughts has allowed me to see a glimpse of the things they’re struggling with, but also the sincere yearning they have for authentic love.
Q: What are some common questions you hear from young people?
Some of the most common questions I receive from young people are centered around abortion. A lot of girls have questions that come from a place of concern for other women and they want to know whether we, as missionaries, are also concerned about these women. Other common questions, especially from girls are, “How can I say no?”, “How can I tell my boyfriend that I want to stop doing _ with them?”, “How do I know if I’m actually being loved?”, and “Is having sex before marriage a sin?”.
Q: What advice would you give to parents based on your interactions with teens and the current culture?
One of the things I would advise to parents is for them to become more involved in the lives of their kids and to make it a point to speak about sexuality with them. Oftentimes, teens will rely on the culture to tell them how to love, how to be loved, and where to find value. If parents are willing and able to answer these questions for their own children, they will tend to be more thoughtful in the decisions they make concerning their sexuality. Sometimes teenagers just need to be reminded that sexuality affects everyone, that they are not alone, and that they are deserving of authentic love.
To learn more about the Culture Project International, please visit thecultureproject.org. To learn more about the Culture Project in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, archphila.org/thecultureproject.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Get to know Dr. Brooke Cortese Tesche, new superintendent of high schools, schools of special education
NEXT: Watch Video | Speaking of Hope with Archbishop Pérez: Catholic Relief Services
Share this story