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 Amber Charles, a Culture Project team leader and second year missionary from Grapevine, Texas 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: From the beginning we have been so warmly welcomed into the Archdiocese. Everyone at the schools, parishes, and offices have gone out of their ways to invite us in, care for us, and encourage us. The students have been fantastic and we are so excited to see where the rest of this year takes us!
Q: How did you receive God’s Call to be a Missionary with the Culture Project?
A: Throughout college I got to travel all across the world. Everywhere I went I noticed the same problem; people’s dignity not being upheld or people not knowing their worth. When I got back to college I realized how living out virtue and seeking authentic love and relationships could not only re-instill personal value on an individual basis, but also change the entire culture. So, I decided to join the Culture Project so I could speak into the hearts of students and remind them how good, wanted, and needed they are.
Q: What is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy in the work you are doing?
A: The greatest joy that comes from this job is getting to work with the students. One of the hardest challenges is that we don’t always get to see the fruits of the works, but I have great faith in the seeds that get planted. I’ve gotten to see students’ hearts moved and answered questions that have been weighing on them. We get to be some of the first people students talk to about their greatest struggles and direct them on the path to true freedom through Christ. It’s so rewarding.
Q: What are some common questions you hear from young people?
A: A lot of questions I get are centered around self-worth. How can I remind myself of my worth? How can I learn to see my beauty? How do I become confident? What if I’m damaged? Am I the exception? Questions that get at the heart of what determines self-worth and what can damage hearts, minds, and souls. It’s a beautiful place to be when you get to tell the students that they are good and loved and that nothing can change that. You don’t have to earn love. You are good as you are. I think it’s something that isn’t said enough.
Q: What advice would you give to parents based on your interactions with teens and the current culture?
A: Don’t be afraid to have tough conversations with your kids. They want to rise to the challenge. They want to change our culture and live differently. They just need direction on how and to hear the truth.
To learn more about the Culture Project International, please visit https://thecultureproject.org/. To learn more about the Culture Project in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, https://archphila.org/thecultureproject/.
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