As Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio stepped onto the balcony on March 13, 2013 and made his first public appearance as Pope Francis, University of Dallas student Sarah Sokora stood in the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and witnessed a wave of relief wash over the people. She remembers joyfully thinking, “We have a father again.”
After she returned home from her semester abroad in Rome, Sarah had no idea that a little over two years later, she would once again be in the same place as Pope Francis. A few weeks before his first visit to America, Sarah boarded a plane which took her to Washington, DC, for the next leg of her journey – life as the new development associate for Franciscan Mission Service. As an office associate, Sarah will live in the Casa San Salvador mission house located in the Brookland neighborhood, an area more fondly known as “Little Rome.”
Sarah, a native of Houston, Texas, graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She heard about the development position through Catholic Volunteer Network and was drawn to its multifaceted offer. As the development associate, Sarah will be able to engage her analytical side and combine service and professional experience in the nonprofit sector. In this position, she will work on donor database management, processing donations, donor research, and administrative office support.
“The more I learned about the position, the more sure I was that it was that next step that I was supposed to take,” Sarah said. “I’m very moved by the organization’s strong focus on ministry of presence. The attention should be on the people, not on a list of tasks to be accomplished.”
For Sarah, her experience in Rome during Pope Francis’ election really brought the universality of the Church alive. There were people from all over the world in St. Peter’s Square, united by faith. She was strongly impacted by Pope Francis’ humility and simplicity, the same simplicity that drew her to Franciscan spirituality.
Like Pope Francis, this is Sarah’s first time in Washington, DC, and she fully intends to take advantage of everything the city has to offer – from the touristy to the more local and obscure. In her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, running, spending time with friends, listening to music, and writing letters.
As part of the Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program, Sarah will volunteer weekly at a service site in the community and share in a life of intentional community with other like minded adults. Sarah looks forward to seeing where this year will take her and embraces this opportunity with Franciscan Mission Service with an open mind and an open heart.
Fun Fact: “When I was growing up I asked for a cat for Christmas every year for about 15 years. Instead, my parents would buy me a stuffed animal cat or something else cat related. Consequently, I ended up collecting a lot of stuffed cats…and never got a real cat.”
Favorite Saint: “St. Edith Stein is one of my favorite saints. I love that she has a Ph.D. in philosophy and also has a wide knowledge and understanding of anthropology. Her conversion story is really beautiful and even before her conversion she was just a really really good person. She was a strong friend to others and inspires me to follow her example through her faith and her actions.”