In her report to Diocesan Convention, Deacon Michelle Causton, Coordinator of Diocesan Youth Programs, told a brief story of a young man who chose to major in social work after his experiences at youth mission trips for the diocese. That young man is Charles Theiner, a freshman at New York University who lived in the Allentown area before attending college.

Theiner, who graduated from Parkland High School, speaks fondly of the three mission trips he attended with other youth from the diocese. “They helped me realize how much I love helping people. It was so uplifting,” said Theiner.

A few months after one of the mission trips he attended, Theiner was serving as an acolyte at Church of the Mediator in Allentown. He had been considering what path he wanted to follow in life when the Rev. Maria Tjeltveit’s sermon sparked something in him. “I was thinking, ‘what do I want to do,’ and the answer became so clear,” said Theiner. It was then that he decided to pursue a career in social work.

Theiner was no stranger to the life of a social worker. When he was growing up, his mother often shared stories from when she worked in that field. “She would tell me stories…about these people she would meet,” said Theiner. “I was absolutely fascinated.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Theiner plans on serving in the Peace Corps for a year before pursuing a master’s in social work. “I would like to do something that is more construction-oriented,” said Theiner, “I would really love to do something like we do in the [diocesan] mission trips.”