Maria Pogue shares her missionary zeal at Seton High School

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Maria Pogue was first bitten by the missionary bug her sophomore year of high school when her English teacher, Carrie Faur, organized the school's first mission trip to Honduras. The group of high school students spent two weeks in Comayagua, working with the Missioners of Christ and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

"Down there I saw great poverty, but also great self-sacrifice and love," said Pogue. She came back to the United States excited to return to Honduras the following summer, but there was a small problem: Faur had decided not to return to Seton. Instead, she was going on a two-year mission trip to Honduras. Pogue was excited for her, but the school was now faced with a leadership void that needed to be filled. Pogue had not planned on being the one to fill it, but she was determined to return to Honduras, and after giving a presentation to the school about the trip, she decided to organize the school trip.

Pogue got in touch with Faur who sent her all the paperwork she needed to get started, and then she took charge of organizing and publicizing the trip to the student body. Students answered the call, but some of the parents were hesitant. Pogue's personal experience encouraged students and parents alike, and soon she had gathered a large enough group to start fundraising. That presented its own challenges.

"We first tried some group fundraisers like the soup kitchen, but those did not always bring in a lot of money," said Pogue, "but God always provides." On one occasion a student was still short $200, but on the day of the trip her neighbor suddenly showed up and donated the money.

Through Pogue's passion and drive the students were able to bring the Gospel to the people of Honduras, as an experience that enriched the students' lives as much as the locals. The volunteers helped by making house visits where they spoke to residents and answered questions.

"It means a lot (to them) that Americans come hundreds of miles to help them with their faith," said Pogue. "It is important especially for First World countries to go because it helps them appreciate having the Eucharist so accessible, where as in Honduras there is only one priest for every 1,000 people."

Pogue continued leading the school's mission trip in her senior year at Seton and has impressed many of the faculty.

"She has done this on her own in a busy senior year, which includes getting honor roll grades in a challenging schedule, playing varsity volleyball and having a lead role in the spring musical," said Anne Carroll, director of Seton High School. "She truly understands the importance of service to others and is able to motivate other students to have the same desire."

Pogue plans on continuing her missionary work in college, one of the reasons she chose to attend Christendom College in Front Royal this fall.

"It was during the mission trip that I felt like I was being called to go there," said Pogue. "I could see what I would be doing at Christendom."

"She's been such a gift to me these past four years and I'm excited to see the great things that she'll do in the years to come," said Faur.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015