MS. NUMRICH (WITH GUITAR) at a vacation Bible school. To help with her mission costs, go to Under the “designation” field, click “team member support.” In the “please designate gift to” field, enter her name.
MS. NUMRICH (WITH GUITAR) at a vacation Bible school. To help with her mission costs, go to Under the “designation” field, click “team member support.” In the “please designate gift to” field, enter her name.
Lauren Numrich, 24, is so open to God's will in her life that she flew to Australia this week for a year-long peer youth ministry service program - and had no idea where she would live or whether she'd even have internet access.

"I'm really trusting God on a lot of this," said Ms. Numrich, a parishioner of St. Ambrose Church in Latham who is discerning what she considers a vocation to youth ministry work. "I believe He's gifted me with the ability to share my heart and share my experiences with other people. I think He's calling me to look outside my comfort zone."

In high school, Ms. Numrich became active in her parish's Lifeteen youth program, which includes lively Masses, Bible studies, mission trips and trips to Christian music festivals. She also attended Lifeteen events at St. Paul the Apostle parish in Schenectady, whose members she met at the local St. Isaac Jogues Youth Conference held each summer.

Ms. Numrich's involvement with her faith began with a retreat the summer before ninth grade. She had just experienced her first breakup and her ex-boyfriend sat right in front of her during eucharistic adoration at St. Ambrose.

"I just closed my eyes and cried," she said. "[I said to God], 'I'm going to try talking to you for real. My heart hurts so much. I just want to open my eyes and look at this boy and stop hurting.'"

The response "completely blew me away. Christ just pierced my heart with His grace and His mercy. I knew He loved me and wanted me to chase after Him."

By the end of high school, Ms. Numrich decided to pursue her calling at Siena College in Loudonville, immersing herself in campus ministry leadership and activities as she earned a religious studies degree.

After her 2011 graduation, she participated in a year-long service program through Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, N.Y., planning retreats and mission trips for high school students and acting as a part-time youth minister at a parish in nearby Harriman.

"It opened my eyes to so much," she said. "God kind of rocked my world. The community of people down there is so large and apowerful and so centered on God's love."

In her free time that year, Ms. Numrich went to Catholic fellowship meetings at the United States Military Academy at West Point to be around people her own age.

"I was moved to tears the first meeting I went to," she recalled. "That was the first time I really got to experience the Catholic Church as a holy family. I never felt more at peace being away from home, because I was home anytime I stepped foot into a church. It was a new feeling that I had to explore."

She researched international service programs and applied to NET Ministries Australia, whose goal is to encourage young people to love Christ and embrace the Church through retreats, workshops, leadership training and personal witnessing.

"I think people need to know that they're loved, especially youth," Ms. Numrich said. "So many people don't understand the love that Christ has for them. We're such tangible beings; we need hard evidence of God."

Teens also need positive, faith-based relationships with people close to their age, she said - and they need to understand "they have worth and tremendous value."

Ms. Numrich, who plays the guitar, left for Australia Jan. 7 for a week of music training and five weeks of formation. She knew housing would be provided the first few weeks, but where she'd stay after that - or even whether she'd be traveling the country or staying in one area - was unknown when she spoke to The Evangelist.

She had spent the last six months working at a dog kennel and working toward her fundraising goal of $6,800, which only covers costs of living and retreat materials for her ministry. She made $1,600 at a bake sale at St. Ambrose - a sign, she said, that "this is what I am supposed to be doing."