"My love of music and singing connects me to God and my faith," Karcher said. "Praise and worship is something that connects us together."
For as long as she can remember, singing has been her passion. "Since I was two-years-old, I would sing Disney songs for my family. When I was in 10th grade, I realized that this is what I want to do. Montclair State has an amazing program. My faith makes me more open to whatever happens. I just want to perform and do what I love," she explained.
Another great passion of Karcher's is campus ministry. As vice-president, she plans events and is also chair of the recently formed community service committee. She helps organize the Newman Catholic Center's book club, game nights and monthly meetings after Mass. The students recently held its spring retreat and are planning a semi-formal.
In her freshman year, Karcher claims as few as 20 students showed up to Mass. Today, in her junior year, 80 students attended Mass. "We have 176 members in our Facebook group," she said excitedly. The large increase, she believes, is due to the inspiration of Father Jim Chern, chaplain of the Newman Catholic Center. "He has been a great leader and helps everyone get involved," she said.
Currently, Karcher is focusing on outreach ministry and service. "We are looking to pray at the Essex County Maximum County Jail soon and are planning to participate in the Midnight Run in New York City (to donate food and clothing to the homeless). In February, we visited the NJ Food Bank in Hillside. It was an eyeopening experience. I realized how fortunate I am."
Last year, she found the Newman Catholic Center and felt she belonged there. "I thought 'this is it.' The community is amazing. Having the community draws me deeper into my faith. At my first retreat, I was with a group of people I didn't know and at the end, everyone ended up being best friends. When you share your Catholic beliefs, you have a bond with people through faith."
Karcher was raised in a faithful Catholic family that attended weekly Mass. She was a lector and cantor during high school. However, due to her busy schedule as a university student, there were times when she was less active in Church life.
"Faith has always been on my radar. When I was a freshman at Montclair State, I wanted to get involved in different things. My faith has grown exponentially since being involved in the Newman Catholic Center."
Making an effort to focus on faith is a struggle for most overextended college students, she believes. "College kids are overwhelmed with classes and other activities. They always say 'I will try to make it to Mass.' If there isn't a clear yearning within yourself to make time, you can easily turn away."
She said that when students do find time for God, being united within a community brings out the best in each young person. "Sometimes, people who were not involved come out of the woodwork and even become members of the executive board. It is amazing to see God working and bringing people in. My faith made me who I am."