MENASHA — When people hear the term, “The Gap Year,” they may envision a teenager, fresh out of high school, backpacking across Europe and experiencing life in other countries before going to college the following fall.
Connor Quick, the son of Craig and Trish Quick and a senior at Menasha High School, will be heading out this September to start his gap year, but this will be one that will serve a greater purpose. He was accepted to be a member of the World Race: Gap Year team, a mission trip for college-aged students where they travel to three continents over the course of nine months, serving those most in need.
While Quick has been an active volunteer at his parish since he was young, he gained a newfound passion for the Catholic Church and service when he went to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis after his freshman year in high school.
“That was my first immersion in the faith, where I started realizing this was something I wanted to pursue, this is something that I really want to have present in my life,” said Quick.
There was one moment during the NCYC trip that was life-changing for Quick. “I was at adoration with 40,000 other Catholics inside the Lucas Oil Stadium where the Colts play. They filled up the entire stadium; it was incredible. After that, I had a feeling in my chest and it was really great.”
That experience led him to start going to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular basis.
Last summer, Quick joined a group of teens from throughout the Green Bay Diocese for a service trip to San Augustine, Texas. “I did a few things with the church throughout the school year — we had youth nights, campfires, stuff like that, but I never really got that feeling back,” recalled Quick. “Then I went on that mission trip last year and I got the feeling again. We were all praying together and singing — it was fantastic.”
When his senior year came around, Quick was in the process of applying for college but said he didn’t feel it was the right thing to do at that time. His mother heard about the World Race from a co-worker, and, when she told him about it, it seemed like the answer he had been looking for.
Quick applied for a position on the World Race team last fall. A couple months later, he was accepted and given a list of things he needed to do before his squad embarked. The highest priority was fundraising — each member needed to raise $15,000.
Quick raised the money in just four weeks.
“I sent out 75 letters to everybody that I knew from teachers, to old friends, people in the church, parents’ colleagues — basically everyone who knew who I was and knew I was a good kid,” said Quick. “I had a really generous sponsor. I got a notification on my blog (connorquick.theworldrace.org) saying that he would match all the donations I received prior to the end of my wrestling season. He made it very clear that I had a lot of work to do, I had to become a much better wrestler than I was at the time if I wanted to make the season last as long as possible.”
This summer, Quick will be doing a mission trip to Lafayette, La., with most of the students who were on the trip with him to Texas last year. “I’ve grown really close to these kids in general,” he said. “Last year we had a fantastic time. They’re kind of like my second family.”
Over the course of the next year, Quick has a number of objectives he’d like to accomplish. “My main goal is I want to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life with this,” he said. While he always thought he wanted to have a family someday, he would be open to considering a vocation to the priesthood.
“If God really tells me, it will be the right thing to do,” he said.
The bottom line for Quick is that he again is looking for that feeling he experience on the NCYC and mission trips. “The mission work is mostly what I’m doing it for, and I feel like I need to grow closer to God. I understand the quote, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ No matter what we do it’s sufficient for him, but I feel like I need to do more in order to make it sufficient.”
When asked how he would know if the World Race was worth it for him, Quick mentioned the feedback he’s read on blog posts from previous racers.
“A lot of them talk about when they come back they don’t know how to process it. It’s like coming back from a mission trip — sometimes you know exactly what you saw and you know exactly how to interpret it. But this one is going to be for nine months and I’m not sure how (I will process it),” he explained.
“One of the blog posts is about this girl who is at the supermarket and she swipes her credit card and it says, ‘Processing. Please wait,’ and she said, ‘I should really get that for a name tag,’ because she didn’t know how to tell people what’s going on,” said Quick. “If I come back that confused, I think that will mean I actually figured something out.”