Year Joined MKLM: 2018
Project: Regional Director for Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan
I serve full-time as Regional Director for Maryknoll lay missioners in Tanzania, Kenay and South Sudan. That means that I am responsible for all of the administrative work of placing missioners in ministries, helping people adjust to life here, making arrangements for outsiders coming to visit, managing finances, and maintaining regular communication with our New York office. I decided to pursue administrative roles because I saw that someone with a strong understanding of the region, who is committed to staying for the long term and also has specific management training and background, could be very effective in supporting missioners’ experiences. I’m always inspired to hear both missioners and their hosts share lifelong memories from experiences that they have shared and hope I can continue to facilitate such experiences.
It’s been inspiring to work with and learn from missioners who have served here for many decades and also to meet returned missioners who are involved in so many types of service connected to Maryknoll, their home parishes and other organizations.
Before starting with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, I had been living and working in Tanzania and East Africa for many years in a number of different capacities. I’ve taught high-school math, managed the construction of a rural school and clinic, managed logistics for a disease eradication program in war-torn South Sudan, coordinated a home-gardening and nutrition program with over a thousand households, done public health research, and worked with hundreds of primary schools in the area on nutrition programming. I feel privileged to now be in a role where I have the opportunity to apply the varied experiences I have had here, live out my vocation in a Catholic ministry environment, and continually be challenged to learn new skills and be joined by my family in mission.
My goal is always that missioners will have a successful and rewarding mission experience by serving in roles where their skills are most needed and that they are supported to overcome challenges in their experiences in mission. In addition to a successful mission experience, I hope that they will carry with them a fresh perspective and outlook on the world as they take on new challenges after serving in Tanzania.
Steve is from the Detroit area of Michigan and first came to Tanzania as a teacher in the U.S. Peace Corps in 2004. Since Mwanza is called “Rock City” (for all the stone formations in the area), and Lake Victoria is part of the “Great Lakes” of Africa, Steve likes to say that he came from Rock City-USA to Rock City-Tanzania and from the Great Lakes of Michigan to the Great Lakes of East Africa.
Before starting as Regional Director with MKLM, he managed programs for small and large international nonprofit organizations, working in public health and rural livelihood development in Tanzania and elsewhere in East Africa. Steve has a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Purdue University and a master’s of science in management from the School for International Training in Vermont. He continues lifelong learning through coursework in human resources, financial investing, operations management and most recently positive psychology.
Steve met his wife, Loyce Veryser, when he was a teacher in the U.S. Peace Corps and placed at a school near to one where she was also teaching math and science. They’ve been married for 12 years and are the parents of Abigail, Justin and Claire (10, 10 and 8 years old). Steve first got involved in service work in the Purdue student chapter of Habitat for Humanity and through the Newman Center, which took him on a service learning trip to Nicaragua. He’s been hooked ever since! He notes that while many people avoid administrative responsibilities because they’re not perceived as very “interesting,” he sees his role as a ministry and is happy to be able to help missioners to best serve the ministries and communities that host them.