Holly Scheibel, coordinator of service at Sts. Peter and Paul Homeless Shelter, meets with the Office of Young Adult Ministry and shares her experience in leading service opportunities.

An Interview with Holly Scheibel

Holly has been leading volunteer efforts for Catholic young adults in St. Louis and her own Emmaus Group for over 3 years. We sat down with Holly to learn more about her and her story.

How did you first encounter the work of Young Adult outreach and ministries in the Archdiocese?
I guess it was probably 3 or 4 years ago. I was in grad school and working in St. Louis. I had been pretty involved in the Newman Center in undergrad, and was looking for something to fill that void of faith, community, and growth once I graduated from grad school. So I went to Theology on Tap, and heard about volunteering at Peter and Paul. I had done some volunteering in college and really liked it, and I thought this would be a really good way of meeting people too! So I started attending every month.

What did inspired you to get involved?

So I just really needed a way to volunteer – I felt like I really needed that in my life. I was working and then doing a lot of things for myself at the end of the day, and I felt like something was missing. I explored some opportunities and nothing seemed to fit. Then, when I found the opportunity at Sts. Peter and Paul, I really enjoyed it, and kept coming back. Then when Emmaus groups were made available, I really wanted to have that community, and I didn’t see anyone leading one in my area, so I thought, “Well, I’ll just do it! If no one else will do it, then I will!”

What would you consider your “personal apostolate” (your personal calling to religious or evangelistic work)?  

I would say, recognizing peoples’ worth and helping them to see that worth themselves. It’s something that I definitely am able to do for the men at Sts. Peter and Paul. I think so often people don’t even look at them in a day, and then when we’re there, I think every one makes an effort to look at them in the eyes, remember their names, and to just talk to them like a normal person. It’s something that we all crave, and that I can give in all my ministries.

Why do you continue to serve? 

It is a great way to get an infusion of joy – and it’s an infusion that lasts through out the week!

There have been days when I have felt kinda sick, in a crummy mood from work, and I know it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t show up, and I’ll think, “Fine, I’ll just go.”  It’s amazing that when I stop thinking about myself and how I was feeling, I felt better. It’s an awesome place to be.

“It was all about finding the need, and then just filling it.”

Did you always feel equipped to lead in service organizations and in your Emmaus group? What advice would you give to those interested in leading?

I was definitely equipped, but you know, I don’t really consider myself a leader. I don’t feel like I’m this “source of so much wisdom,” I have no background in Theology, I’m a more introverted person, but I know that I can create a space and and organize! We all share equally, we all have something to share, and something to learn from each other. So, in my case, it was all about finding the need, and then just filling it. And then with Sts. Peter and Paul, there was just a gap, they needed someone to show up. I wanted the men to have healthy food, so I showed up, and I would encourage others to fill in those gaps as well. I would tell those interested in leading: don’t be too hard on yourself, use the gifts you have, and be sure to lean on the support of other people!

Describe the work you do. How does this work respond to the mission of the Church?

At Sts. Peter and Paul we prepare a dinner for the homeless men at the shelter. We begin with prayer, and then dinner starts at 7, we serve the food, and after dinner there are volunteers that play music, we play games, talk, and hangout!  On Thursdays we have about 1 to 5 people volunteer and on Mondays we will get up to 20 people. So an opportunity for a new leader would be to take on the position of “point person” for Thursdays. This would mean committing to going on the first Thursday of every month, being welcoming to other volunteers, and making sure they know their way around kitchen.

As Christians we are called to seek out the poor, to show Christ to others, and to remind others of their value, and I think that’s something we definitely do. It’s also a really great way to evangelize to the men we serve, and even the other volunteers! I know evangelization can be intimidating to a lot of people, but this has been a great place to start with some of the friends that I have invited to serve and to begin those conversations.

What makes your group visible? Vibrant?

I am learning more and more how important it is to have an active social media presence. We have been improving that recently. Then, I would say we have been a vibrant community in how we are building up leadership among the volunteers to fill those voids in the future.

Is there a particular passage from Scripture that has inspired your commitment to the poor?

I really love the book of James. In the second chapter, he talks about justifying your faith through works. I think a lot of what we do at Peter and Paul is just living out your faith.

I feel like you and Pope Francis would be good buds. So much of what you’ve said is similar to things he’s said Evangelii Gaudium, and in his audiences when he is speaking about the poor and recognizing the dignity of those on the peripheries. 

Yes! I love him! I just love his spirit of seeking out those people and showing love. Sometimes that is really hard to do especially with those that we see a lot and are close to us, which has especially come up at work. A word that I have been clinging to this year is “opportunity.” I am trying to take those moments where I struggle and use them as opportunities to lift them up in prayer.

“He didn’t have a ton of time, but he still gave up the time that he had to others!”

Is there a particular saint that has inspired your work? 

Yeah! Actually, St. Louis IX, now! I really didn’t know anything about him, and I never really thought about how our city was named after a saint until the St. Louis IX Dinner. But in learning about his life, and all that he did, I realized – he is the man! He’s awesome!

Another one, though not a saint yet, is the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Fredrick Ozanam.  He was a college student, and someone asked him, “so what do you Catholics even do?” This inspired him to start this group where they met with the less fortunate to provide spiritual and material aid.  He inspires me because he wasn’t just a retired person, doing this with his surplus of time, but he was a student, he had a family, he didn’t have a ton of time, but he still gave up the time that he had to others!

How To Get Involved

We are looking for new leaders to take on volunteer roles this year! Check out service opportunities such as Sts. Peter and Paul Homeless Shelter, the St. Louis IX Dinner, Our Lady’s Inn, and more here.