Coming out of Littleton’s Columbine High School, Ben Schumann, now 31, entered the seminary. After two years of discerning the priesthood, he “discerned out.” It wasn’t God’s call for him.
He spent the next year torn between going back to school or moving to California with hopes of an acting career. He settled on acting.
Before launching a future in Hollywood, he chaperoned a 10-day mission trip to Mexico for the youth group at his parish, St. Frances Cabrini.
“I fell in love,” Schumann told the Denver Catholic Register, “with the people, with the poverty, and with bringing the Gospel message to people.”
It was then that he knew what God’s call was for him.
“Within a week I quit my job, sold my condo and bought a ticket to Louisiana,” he said.
There he completed missionary formation with the lay apostolate Family Missions Company (FMC), based in Lafayette, and committed to two years of service. His first year, 2005, was spent on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent feeding the poor, physically and spiritually; followed by a second year in the Philippines.
“Missionary activity is the greatest and holiest work of the Church,” he said, and that desire never left his heart.
Ultimately he returned to Denver, and met now wife Natalia, 29.
“I told him I would never be a missionary,” she relayed with a laugh. “Never tell God never!”
The two started their life together marrying in November 2010, and welcoming daughter Raeleigh in October 2012. Ben worked as a youth minister at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Longmont, and Natalia in the Office of Priestly Vocations for the Archdiocese of Denver.
Last October, Ben had a desire to attend a conference offered by FMC in Louisiana, and Natalia agreed—though she still had no inkling of a missionary call.
“I told God ‘this is for Ben,'” she said. “This is what Ben needs.”
During the trip, their future experienced a dramatic shift.
“It felt like a homecoming,” Ben said of reuniting with friends. “I was overwhelmed with peace.”
At the same time, he could see Natalia was wrestling with something.
“During praise and worship, I kept hearing ‘Drop the wall,'” Natalia said, and then she asked herself: “Is missionary work something I can do?”
The conference proceeded and at one point a basket was passed around for everyone to draw the name of a country to pray for.
“Ben, let’s pray for the country where we’re supposed to be missionaries,” Natalia said before drawing a paper from the basket.
“Don’t you toy with my heart,” he responded, not sure if she was serious.
“I’m serious,” she said. And their new future launched.
After months of praying for God to “remove obstacles,” along with the practical preparations of finishing coursework, paying off debt and finding renters for their home, the couple along with 19-month-old Raeleigh will leave for formation with FMC in Louisiana and Mexico Sept. 11. Their missionary team is growing as well, with recent news that they are expecting a baby in April.
“I feel a great sense of peace with the call,” Natalia said. “I’m excited to see how the Lord will show up in the poverty.”
They will receive their assignment in January 2015 and have made a commitment of at least two years.
“I feel so strongly this is what God is calling our family to,” Ben said. “It’s very humbling. God is moving mountains to make this possible.”
Who: Natalia, Ben and Raeleigh Schumann
Commitment: 2 years
Assigned country: To be determined January 2015
Missionary salary: $0
Funds needed for formation: $7,000
Monthly support needed: $1,000
More info: SchumannFamily.FMCmissions.com
Donations are tax-deductible through Family Missions Company