Today, the Buffalo, NY, native has used his affinity for teamwork by starting "Second Mile," a relief ministry in the University Heights neighborhood.
"The program is just getting under way. We are now in the experimental stages," Honsberger explained. The ministry's name comes from one Honsberger's favorite Bible passages, Matthew 5:41: "Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles."
Honsberger along with 10 volunteers serve as a "mobile pantry," traveling the city's streets every Friday night with backpacks filled with food and reference material on shelters to aid the poor.
"Some people just ignore them (the homeless and poor). We approach them and make them feel that they have dignity," Honsberger stressed. "The most important thing we do is listen. Two out of every 10 people we meet every night end up in tears because no one has ever stopped to listen to them. We also conduct surveys, asking where they are from and how they ended up on the streets."
Second Mile volunteers range from local college students to recent graduates and even one 70-year-old man who wanted to get involved. "There are two types of volunteers at Second Mile: one who takes a temporary vow for the semester to live a life dedicated to service of the poor; and one who will volunteer from time to time," he noted. "When you take the vow, you always make a point to say 'hello' and offer something to someone on the street, regardless of your schedule."
After graduating in May 2006 with a degree in management, Honsberger entered the financial planning industry. He became a student leader in ministry at the Newman Center on the Rutgers-Newark Campus.
The catalyst for Honsberger's commitment to serving the poor and a deepening of his Catholic faith was Travis Lawmaster, campus minister for the Newman Center at University Heights. Lawmaster, along with Maureen Madigan-the director of the archdiocesan Catholic Campus Ministry department-penned a guest article in the Oct. 24 edition of The Catholic Advocate, describing the mission of the ministry.
"Those involved with the Newman Center became my main circle of friends," Honsberger recalled. "Travis did things that I had never seen before in campus ministry. He did street ministry and used an inductive method that made the Bible and Church teachings apply to modern times and people my own age. Travis taught me the Word and then I became a teacher. I was planning to play professional volleyball in Europe but campus ministry and my girlfriend made me stay."
Because of his involvement with Newman Center, Honsberger was selected as one of the 2006 "Outstanding Campus Ministry Students of the Year" (see The Catholic Advocate, Aug. 9, 2006). At the Newman Center-a fellowship of Catholic students from Rutgers and New Jersey Institute of Technology-there is Bible study at every dormitory, administering of sacraments and service to the poor.
Bible study is what first drew Honsberger into the ministry. "There was something going on every night. We had a lot of recent converts to Christianity at the center. Bible study became my life and I really became passionate about Liturgy of the Word."
Although Honsberger was raised Catholic, he was never active in his faith during his younger days in Buffalo. "Church was just a social activity until I came to college. People in this area are really into their faith," Honsberger said.
What keeps Honsberger going today is a sentiment he learned while in campus ministry. "Serving others is serving yourself," he said. "Now that I have Second Mile, people are depending on me for spiritual development."
To contact Honsberger for details on the Second Mile ministry, call his cell phone (716) 949-5883 or e-mail him at email@example.com