Mishicot native grows as a missionary disciple by ‘living less comfortably’

Amanda Sattler serves as Life Teen missionary in Haiti

ALLOUEZ  — In March of 2015, Pope Francis posted a message on Twitter that read, “Beware of getting too comfortable! When we are comfortable, it’s easy to forget other people.”

Members of the Life Teen Missions team gather with community members following a home visit. Amanda Sattler, back row, fourth from left, considers her mission experience in Haiti as one of many gifts on her faith journey, which has included religious life discernment. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)

The pope’s words rang true for Amanda Sattler in November of 2016. Sattler, whose home parish is Holy Cross in Mishicot, was serving in ministry at the time for Life Teen Missions at Camp Hidden Lake in Dahlonega, Ga.

“It was an opportunity to live in community and learn and grow as a missionary disciple,” she said. “It included a lot of personal growth and personal formation; people taking the time to invest in you and mentor you.”

Sattler, 22, was part of a staff that hosted and facilitated retreats at the camp for young people from parishes and campus ministry programs. Personal formation included an extended lectio divina (divine reading) on the parable of the prodigal son, reading “Story of a Soul,” the autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and “The Joy of the Gospel: A Group Reading Guide to Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium,” an eight-day silent retreat and a mission trip to the Life Teen Missions base in Madian, Haiti.

“Following our 10-day mission trip to Haiti, I just couldn’t forget what I had experienced,” said Sattler in an interview with The Compass while home for the Christmas break. “I really met Jesus in a real way in the poor. I was going out in hopes to minister to Jesus in the poor and found that Jesus was loving me through the poor.

“Being a Life Teen missionary, as wonderful and fulfilling as it was, I felt that I was a little too comfortable,” she added. “There could be more that I could be doing. I should be living less comfortably. Feeling that my life was too comfortable, I thought, ‘Haiti is it.’ Part of me wanted to go back, but part of me knew it was going to be hard.”

Sattler told the director of missions about her interest in Haiti. She admits that she was hoping he would say they already had enough people.

“That didn’t happen,” she said. “I ended up going in May and serving there in the summer. That was a trial time.”

Her summer experience was somewhat similar to ministry in Georgia. She was part of a staff that hosted mission groups from the United States.

Amanda Sattler shares an embrace with a Haitian teen at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization, the Life Teen Missions base in Madian, Haiti. Since May of 2017, Sattler has served as a Life Teen missionary in parishes in the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne. (Submitted Photo | For The Compass)

“Summer is the big season. Groups come for a week at a time,” said Sattler. “Parish youth groups, sometimes young adults, primarily young people, come. We invite them into our life in Haiti. They do our rhythm of prayer.”

Outreach separates Haiti from the Camp Hidden Lake ministry experience. The Life Teen team goes into the community to makes home visits.

“It could be visiting a teen that hasn’t come to anything at the base for a while, visiting one of our neighbors who has been sick or if we hear of somebody who has a baby who is sick, going and praying with them.  In the evenings, we do formation with the American young people,” she said.

The John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization, the Life Teen Missions base, is located in the Diocese of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne. Five years ago, Bishop Pierre-André Dumas invited Life Teen to help establish sustainable youth ministry in the diocese.

Young adults from parishes are invited to the base for training on how to minister to teens. Life Teen Missions also hosts Haitian teens for camps.

“It’s just beautiful to see the young adults we brought in to be camp counselors, to see them investing in the teens,” said Sattler. “Some of them had never heard of youth ministry before. They just dive in. They love it. We give them the tools and resources they need to plan weekly Life Nights. An outreach team goes to different parishes for a six-week program. We help them with Life Nights and nights of adoration and benediction. In Haiti it also includes a procession. Ministry has come alive.”

Sattler’s commitment runs through August. She said that it is too soon to decide if she will renew with Life Teen or seek other opportunities. Looking back on her faith journey, she is thankful for many gifts along the way.

“I started taking my faith seriously after going to my first Steubenville (Youth) Conference the summer before my first year of high school,” she said. “I kept going every summer and kept growing more and more in my faith.

“I was introduced to Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE) my senior year of high school. To be a part of that community was really a gift. It was different than other retreats. You could go on an expedition once a month. It really helped my faith to go from retreat high to retreat high to an everyday personal relationship, which was real grace. CYE made the faith more livable day to day.”

Following high school, Sattler attended Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where she experienced a transformation.

“During that year, Jesus made it very clear to me that he wanted me to pursue religious life,” she said. “I left after my freshman year.”

Sattler returned to Wisconsin and worked for a year. She then lived at the Mater Redemptoris House of Formation in La Crosse.

“That was exactly what I needed to give direction to my discernment,” she said. “I learned the day-to-day ins and outs of what it means to be religious without having any type of commitment.”

Following a year in La Crosse, the opportunity to enter a religious community did not open for Sattler.  Through a CYE contact, she learned about Life Teen Missions.

Sattler, whose youth ministry experience also includes two summers with Totus Tuus in the Diocese of Green Bay, said the language barrier is one of the challenges in her current ministry.

“I used to know how to host a girls’ small group and it was no big deal,” she said. “Now I have to translate all the questions in Creole and make sure the activities are culturally appropriate. It’s good. When I get to a place where I can’t do it myself, God is like, ‘Then I can do it.’ That’s how it should go.”

Sattler added that the challenges are learning experiences.

“I’m still a daughter of God if I’m able to be an instrument of conversion for other people or not,” she said. “My value doesn’t change on my ability to help people know Jesus. Every step along the way, I’ve eventually come to a lesson through the challenges.”

To help support Sattler’s ministry or for more information about her Life Teen Missions experience, visit donate.lifeteen.com/Amanda.