Mind Your Body, Work Your Soul

One former volunteer’s journey to health

By Katie Mulembe, Catholic Volunteer Network

Many of us have very fond memories of our year (or two, or three!) of service. We remember it as a time of fulfillment, growth, and deep joy – all results of living simply, walking with the poor, nurturing a regular prayer life, and experiencing the accountability of intentional community. Coming home can be a huge challenge, and many find it difficult to regain the vibrancy and excitement that the year of service held.

This was the experience of Clare Strockbine (now Clare Acosta Matos) when she returned from her time of service with Rostro de Cristo in Duran, Ecuador. She went back to school, earned her Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry, and began a two year journey of searching for a job that was the right fit. This journey, which moved her to three different states in just two years, was not only geographical, but also emotional, spiritual, and physical. Eventually, she found that pursuing physical fitness through diet and exercise helped her create a lifestyle that was both physically and spiritually nourishing. Clare shares about this experience in her new book Mind Your Body, Work Your Soul, published by Ligouri Press.

Throughout the book, Clare shares generously about her personal experiences and narrates the journey of growth that she has walked, much of it during the years since returning from Ecuador. She has found a new depth to her emotional, physical, and spiritual life – and shares this wisdom with her readers.

Clare narrates the stories of her prior struggles for physical fitness with much honesty. She recalls the many unsuccessful diets and exercise routines she tried, but gives credit for her recent success to the presence of a supportive community. This was something she enjoyed during her two years in Ecuador, but struggled to find when she returned home. In a recent conversation she explained that the experience of community is completely different after the service experience. She says, “You need to be more intentional about it and look for it in new ways.”

To Clare, the link between the health of her body and her soul were not immediately apparent, but it was something she discovered soon after taking her first Zumba class. As she developed the discipline of regular exercise and healthy eating, she found that she was experiencing new levels of joy and freedom in other parts of her life as well. She says, “I believe physical and spiritual health are manifestations of inner passions. Meaning that I think when we figure out what we love – both by way of our physical being and by way of our spiritual being – we find ourselves healthy.”

Currently, Clare serves as the Minister for Social Justice and adjunct faculty member at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Additionally, she is a certified Zumba instructor and personal trainer. And, to top it all off, she is also a newlywed! It’s hard to imagine how she found time to write this new book (published last June). When asked how she did it, Clare explained that she is now living out so many of her passions, that she doesn’t struggle as much to squeeze everything in to her life. In fact, she found the time to write the book in the same way she found the energy to get in shape - she had a close community of friends and colleagues who held her accountable for her personal goals.

So, what’s the secret to a new year’s resolution that will stick? Clare believes it’s all about doing what you love and bringing others along with you. In her book she writes, “The power of community comes not from one specific person or source; rather, as we influence one another, as we grow and change and learn and love, we become, collectively, a more clear reflection of the body of Christ, encouraging one another along the way.”

We are giving away three copies of Clare’s book Mind Your Body, Work Your Soul on our Facebook page. To win, leave a comment sharing one way you plan to live a healthier life in the new year!




Staying Connected is a collaborative effort of Catholic Volunteer Network and Catholic Apostolate Center.