Arch Mrkvicka is FOSL’s former Executive Director and currently serves as a board member. He feels a special connection to the Mission Charity Program. Read on to learn more about Arch and why he cares about the Charity Program.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Arch Mrkvicka. My wife Suzie and I live in Owatonna, MN. We have three daughters and seven grandchildren. I had the great honor of being the first Executive Director of the newly formed Friends of San Lucas non-profit organization after our founder Fr. Greg Schaffer died.
What led you to support the Mission? How did you get involved?
In 2001, my daughter Annie, a junior in high school, went on a mission trip to San Lucas with St. John Neumann Church (SJN) in Eagan, MN. The following year, she invited me to go with her as a male chaperon for the youth group. I reluctantly agreed to tag along. The following year, I began leading adult groups from SJN once a year and have done so every year since. In 2008, I began working with Fr. Greg, helping him with various mission tasks. When Fr. Greg died, Bishop LeVoir asked me to step into a leadership role.
Why do you care about the Charity Program?
While reorganizing the Mission programs in 2013, we realized there was a need to provide emergency assistance to community members with the greatest need. Our other programs provide long-term help, but there were elderly people, families and children who were struggling to eat even one meal a day. There are times that the basic needs of many families in and around San Lucas are near ‘life and death’ situations. And although most of our funding goes to help people rise out of the ‘process of poverty,’ there still is a need for immediate assistance. As Mother Teresa used to say, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one”. We do what we can with our limited funds, to help make it to tomorrow.
Can you share a specific story of the program’s impact that you know of?
One of the most impactful stories I know of is watching our visitors and guests interact with the people that the Charity Program supports. We ask our visitors to consider helping provide a bed or a kitchen table and chairs to families that have neither. With the help of Myvi Juárez, the Charity Program Director, these visiting groups will go with her to the market and purchase items for a family – like a bed and mattress and then Myvi takes these visitors with her to deliver the newly purchased items to a family in need. On many occasions, this bed will be delivered to an elderly couple who have been sleeping on the floor of their house all their lives. They have never slept in a bed with a mattress. It’s not unusual to have our visitors come back from that experience with tears in their eyes and a determination to do more to help those most in need.
What difference are people making when they give to the Charity Program?
When you donate to the Charity Program, you may be saving a person’s life. That is how dramatic this ‘emergency assistance’ can be. Again, my hero, Mother Teresa said “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” It is amazing how far a few dollars can go in helping a person in the process of poverty make it to the next day or next week. Because of the donations received during the pandemic, the Charity Program provided many thousands of bags of food and essentials to struggling families.
How has this program touched your life personally?
Working alongside families with children, the elderly and widows these past 20+ years have taught me a great deal about what God is asking of me. I have learned more working in solidarity with the people of the San Lucas area than at any other time in my life. Their faith in God, their hard work ethic, their love of family and community, despite having so little, humbles me like nothing else. We can make a difference in the world by these tangible acts of kindness and support, and a heart filled with love and compassion for those most in need.