“My main goal is to get a sense of what my vocation is in life,” she said. “I want to know if this is the right path for me or if I should go to grad school. I’m trying to get my feet wet.”
In the spring of 2013, Hirner will graduate with a degree in sociology with a double minor in peace and justice and religious studies. Her interest in social justice issues has been fostered at St. Norbert through her involvement in the M3C (Midwest Campus Compact Citizen-Scholar Fellows) program. M3C Fellows, first-year students, serve 300 hours in the Green Bay area community and their home communities as AmeriCorps Citizen-Scholar Fellows. Hirner worked at homeless shelters and mentored and tutored students at Jefferson Elementary School in Green Bay and foster care children. She also led two service trips to Chicago.
“It was interesting, the girls on my trip were from Oostburg and other small Wisconsin communities and they had never been to Chicago, so it was pretty eye-opening,” she said. “The number one thing I learned from those trips is when you perform service rather than just doing the acts, you really need to see the person and their dignity when you are serving them. It’s not an us and them situation; it’s us altogether.”
Hirner, 21, a graduate of Rosary High School, an all-girls Catholic college preparatory school in Aurora, sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, is the youngest of six children in her family. All of her siblings are married and have children, adding to her interest in family ministry. She reports to Peg Vandehey, diocesan coordinator of Family and Married Life.
“Peg is so positive and full of life,” said Hirner. “She definitely wants to help others.”
Hirner is also a pro-life advocate. She prays with friends outside the Medical Arts Building in Green Bay, where abortions are performed, and recalls a prayer session where she witnessed the emotional effects of abortion firsthand.
“It was my sophomore year, and a friend and I were praying when a random priest came and started praying with us,” she explained. “A woman then came off of the street. She approached the priest and started crying and asking for forgiveness. It was definitely a powerful experience and showed the tragedy of abortion.”
Hirner added that abortion and life issues are not discussed much among students on campus, and feels they should be more. Seeing people in the image of God helps people promote social justice in all areas, she suggested.
“People are not seeing others as true human beings,” she said. “They are distracted by the shallowness, surface-based things in their lives. They don’t look directly at the dignity of that person. People aren’t pure of heart. I once heard a homily where the theme was ‘blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.’ I think that once you are pure of heart and you see the true dignity of people, then you are also seeing God.”