2012 Graduation

| May 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

 

Catholic graduation ceremonies, dates and times

Catholic colleges attracting more students who want to live their faith

Fish fries and tree sales connect men’s group at Our Lady of Grace with Cristo Rey students


A salute to this year’s seniors

They share their views of the past, present, future

 

Molly Downes

Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul

Molly Downes is a member of St. John Neumann in Eagan. She is the daughter of Theresa Downes and plans to attend the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned would be to always stay true to yourself.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Being co-president of Cretin-Derham Hall.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience I have had would be through service every Thursday at Northside Child Development Center in North Minneapolis. Volunteering and spending time with the preschoolers there has been a great experience.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges young adults face today?
What adults should know is that there are many ways kids can be bullied and many pressures for them to face. Even though they may not show it, every kid has their own story.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Having volunteer programs where young adults can engage in their own community and help out others is a great way to keep young adults involved in the Catholic Church.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
It would be Mother Teresa. I would love to talk to her about how she changed so many lives with so little and had such a big heart.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
A major problem that concerns me would be homelessness in the world. Everyone helping out through programs such as Habitat for Humanity can help solve this problem one house at a time.

What is your favorite quote?
“Everything happens for a reason.” — Anonymous


John Sibenaller

Immaculate Conception Church, Lonsdale

John Sibenaller attends New Prague High School. He is the son of Mark and Nancy Sibenaller and is considering the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I learned to work hard and get things done in an honest manner.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Managing my school work, a job, athletics and a social life efficiently.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.  
When my grandfather died, it really hit me how faith is one of the major binding factors in a family.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
This new age of communication is letting kids grow up with more access to resources. Adults shouldn’t be intimidated by this and should responsibly let their kids use it as a tool for greater understanding of other peoples, cultures and faiths.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Show how Jesus’ life is still relevant in the 21st century.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
The Founding Fathers. I would want to see their opinions on how the United States has turned out 236 years after they founded it.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The government’s out-of-control debt. At this point, I don’t even know if it can be solved.

What is your favorite quote?
“Curiosity is bliss.” — Thomas Gray

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Don’t waste your time with the wrong group of people. Find people that make you a better you.


Andrea Flores

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Minneapolis

Andrea Flores attends Ascension Church in Minneapolis with her parents, Andres and Irene Flores. She plans to attend Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Never be afraid to seek help. Teachers are there for support and help. I was always afraid and too shy to ask for help but realized that I needed it, and the teachers were more than happy to help.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
My biggest accomplishment is being able to work and go to school. Cristo Rey offers a great opportunity for its students to be working in corporate jobs. I am grateful to have gained so much experience because of this opportunity and accomplishment.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience that I have had during high school will have to be having faith in God when things were going rocky at home. I love my family and always want them to be happy and thank God every day for their happiness. Last year, there was some issue that my family and I went through, and I really felt tested by God. My faith stayed strong by having a little conversation with my parish priest. He gave me really great advice, and to this day I retell myself that advice and keep in my heart that God is always there for my family and me, even when the sky is gray.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
The challenges youth and young adults face today are many. The one that stands out the most to me is the challenge of staying focused. We can get easily distracted and go off-track due to being on the computer, television, phone, etc. How can we not be distracted by these things? There are so many things going on that we feel like we must stop everything and watch or respond to them.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
The Catholic Church should have more entertaining and eye-catching activities for young adults to engage in the life of the church. Church is really quiet and tranquil, but the church could be more open and inviting of young people’s opinions.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would like to have a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. because he accomplished so many things using non-violent techniques and was really brave for not responding back to all the violent reactions that he got. He set his mind on changing the world, and he accomplished them all one step at a time with help from others as well.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The problem that concerns me the most that’s going on in the world would have to be the uncalled-for immigration laws that are trying to go through in the United States. It concerns me because a lot of my family members are immigrants and they just want to have a fair life like others that live here. I think this issue can be solved by . . . making laws that will accept immigrants and letting them have an honest life here in America.

What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” — Chuck Palahniuk

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
The advice that I would give myself is to stay focused — to stick to everything that I start with and finish it.


Kaila Forster

St. Gregory the Great, North Branch

Kaila Forster attends North Branch Area High School. She is the daughter of  Richard Forster and Katherine Kind and plans to attend the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
To never give up without trying my best first. I think this quote says it well: “At one point or another in this class you will feel frustrated, irritated, humbled or depressed. When this happens you know you have reached your limit. You then have two choices. You can either give up or continue to try. If you continue to try, then your limits will continue to get higher.”

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school?
I am proud that I have taken some PSEO classes at a community college.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My junior year I became a catechist teaching a sixth-grade class; this year I teach a fourth-grade class. It is challenging, yet rewarding to know that I am positively influencing others.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
I think youth struggle with challenges in their family, and not knowing how to deal with it or who to talk to.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Do not look at change as a bad thing. Specifically, I feel that the Catholic Church should not regress when it comes to allowing females to be involved in the church. Young adults want a faith that is relevant.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Helen Keller. She had the strength, determination and positive attitude many of us can only imagine having.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The amount of violence in the world concerns me, especially in the United States, where we have so much, yet our values seem to be deteriorating. The family structure needs to be given more attention.

What is your favorite quote?
“Folks will know how large your soul is by the way you treat a dog.” — Charles F. Duran

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
To have more faith in myself.


Sara Heselton

Bethlehem Academy, Faribault

Sara Heselton attends Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault with her parents, Mike and Debbie Heselton. She plans to spend a year with NET Ministries before attending college.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
To never underestimate myself or my abilities.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I’m proud and surprised that I’ve been able to hold a 4.0 GPA.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My ninth-grade confirmation retreat is where I first encountered the Lord truly and personally. That morning, I felt his love so genuinely and knew I was created to serve and be with him.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
Many youth and young adults feel trapped in the lifestyle presented to them. It isn’t fulfilling, but they feel like there is no alternative. I also want adults to know this generation has hope; confronted with despair, I’m confident more and more young people will turn to the Lord.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Keep going back to the roots! I know that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of the faith, but its sincerity seems to have gotten lost in the past generations. Young adults want a genuine religion and relationship with Jesus Christ, fulfilled in the church.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Mary Magdalene and get a glimpse into what her relationship with Jesus was really like and how the mercy he showed affected her.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
I’m truly frightened by how quickly my generation can and seems to be falling away from the church and the Lord. If America becomes like Europe in that sense, the world has little hope.

What is your favorite quote?
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” — St. Catherine of Siena

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Be calm, have patience and live with perspective — grades, clothes and fights aren’t everything.


Mary Claire Schueppert

Our Lady of Grace, Edina

Mary Claire Schueppert attends Convent of the Visitation in Mendota Heights. She is the daughter of Michael and Mary Schueppert. She plans to attend Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif., to study bioengineering.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of being part of the only all girls FIRST™ Robotics team in Minnesota, The Robettes. Through this team I have grown as a woman in science and gain self-confidence.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
On my first mission trip . . . we took a trip to an infirmary, where I got to see firsthand how challenging life can be for people in a Third World country. I walked away . . .  realizing to never take going to the doctor for granted.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
With the advancements in technology, . . . it is a lot easier to deal with things without face-to-face communication, and things are not always handled in the best method.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
It is important to make things relate to their lives. Also, create events directed toward the younger people.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female American doctor,  and to hear what challenges she faced.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Lack of education around the world. Children need to be inspired.

What is your favorite quote?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi


Kevin Fidler

Hill-Murray School, Maplewood

Kevin Fidler attends St. Ambrose of Woodbury with his parents, Frank and Rosanne Fidler. He plans to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I learned to surround myself with good, honest people; friends you frequently associate with reflect your own character. Besides academics, the most meaningful part of high school is cultivating life-long friendships.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I was able to balance a lot of activities while maintaining my grades. I was a member of National Honor Society, student council and peer listening. I also played football and lacrosse for my high school. I earned my Eagle Scout award as well.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
During my parish’s confirmation retreat, I felt like my faith life truly progressed. I was able to take part in the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time in several years. It was very satisfying and enlightening.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
Adults need to give the youn­ger generation the freedom to develop their own sense of discipline and organization.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Malcolm X. After he returned from his pilgrimage to Mecca, his mindset on racism and integration was completely altered. I would like to discuss his extreme change in thinking.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Ethnic and racial violence across the world. I hope there will come a time when people no longer identify themselves as an ethnic group.


Hung Dinh

St. Anne — St. Joseph Hien, Minneapolis

Hung Dinh attends Mounds View High School in Arden Hills. He is the son of Linda Trinh and Trung Nguyen and plans to attend the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?   
You can’t be too quick to judge. You’re attending a place that contains a few thousand other people, which, of course, leads to many cliques and people that have different opinions and beliefs that could be completely different than your own. This can easily lead to judging or labeling someone even if we don’t intend to. But living the Catholic way, I push myself to stick with what is right and treat all people like my brothers and sisters.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of creating friendships and memories that will truly be with me for the rest of my life.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Sophomore year in high school I was questioned by a fellow student about why I believe in what I believe in. At the time, I really didn’t have much knowledge of my own religion, so I wasn’t the greatest person to be asked that. But this helped make me realize that if I truly want to live my faith and be a true man of faith, I would have to be more educated about my faith and learn about the meaning of being a Catholic. So, I told this student that I would get back to them with an answer in a few weeks. I then started to hit the books and dissected the symbols and meanings of being a Catholic. A few weeks passed by and I finally had the courage to approach this student and give an appropriate answer. My answer was summed up from everything I had learned in these few weeks, and I gave this student a simple answer: “I believe in what I believe in because it keeps me a good person, it keeps me motivated and dedicated to serve my fellow brothers and sisters. It teaches me unconditional love.” After giving the student this answer, I truly felt that the student was in awe, which really made me feel good and caused me to, now, be even more dedicated to learn more about my faith.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
I would like them to know that — because they have more experience in life and about certain things that a young mind couldn’t grasp — they could know more about what we as the younger generation need to learn and help us follow the right path.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Having some kind of youth group or get-together that is available for students to be with their friends, having a fun time to hang out, but then also learn about their faith.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Martin Luther King Jr. Even though he was discriminated against and ridiculed, he kept doing what was right in a peaceful manner.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Abortion. This topic may make some uncomfortable to talk about, but I feel that there is a need for people to talk about it and be more educated about it because some people are falsely informed about abortion.

What is your favorite quote?
“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” — Philippians 4:13

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Start learning more about my religion at a younger age so I can educate others who ask.


Allison Badar

Convent of the Visitation,  Mendota Heights

Allison Badar attends Lumen Christi in St. Paul with her parents, Lauri and Tim Badar. She plans to attend Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, to study for a BFA in dance.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I learned to have the courage to do what I believe is right. I grew up tending toward timidity rather than confidence.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I was able to continue to dance at a high level with a professional ballet company, as well as keeping active in my school community.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
During our senior retreat this fall, I started to have an unquenchable thirst for more faith in my life. Now, I truly see how my graduating class demonstrates new facets of God’s love for me every day.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
It becomes increasingly easy to slip off our right path. The freedom we have nowadays with technology and communication, while it is an excellent tool, can be extremely dangerous for our self-esteem and growth as intellectual people. Since we have much freedom in this technological community, young adults need to have great responsibility, as well as help from adults who can keep us safe from the harmful aspects of the world.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Encourage conversation. If there’s anything I’ve learned about faith in my life, it is that an active conversation with others about faith is a necessity to any relationship with God. Questioning and struggling are vital parts of our complex religious life.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Anne Frank. At an extremely young age, she was exposed to the cruelties of humanity yet remained a love-filled individual.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Human trafficking. While I believe that the answer is not a simple one, the first steps are to educate men as well as women on this subject.

What is your favorite quote?
“Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.” — St. Francis de Sales


Colleen Enwesi

Ascension, Minneapolis

Colleen Enwesi attends DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. She is the daughter of Grace Mobosi-Enwesi and the late Andrew Enwesi. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned was managing my time. I was able to find a balance between family, friends, school and the things I like to do.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One thing I am proud of accomplishing in high school was having my artwork displayed in my school for the student body to see.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The time that a friend of mine had passed away. Through his death, I witnessed my whole senior class come together as one to mourn the loss of someone we all loved.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
We have so much pressure on us. There is pressure to get a part-time job, pressure to do well in school and get into a good college, pressure to hang out with friends, pressure to do so many things that it is very overwhelming.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
If the Catholic Church wants to keep me and other young people more engaged, there have to be more youth-oriented programs.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet and talk to Bob Marley because he was such an inspirational man to his country.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The problem that concerns me the most in the world is the depletion of the earth and its resources. The only way I see this problem being solved is if people are educated more on preserving the earth and people start taking into account the future generations.

What is your favorite quote?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” —  Friedrich Nietzsche

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
The advice I would give to myself would be to not take things so seriously, and learn to let things stay in the past and move on.


Katelyn Caron

Academy of Holy Angels, Richfield

Katelyn Caron attends St. Peter Catholic Church in Richfield with her parents, Jeff and Lisa Caron. She plans to attend St. Catherine University in St. Paul.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I learned how to be myself, how to love myself, and how to trust in God’s plan. Moving into a high school class of almost 200 was a huge leap from my middle-school class of barely 40, especially when my best friend and I grew apart in the process. But when God closes one door, he always opens another. When it seemed that I was at a low and hurting the most, God led me toward a whole new group of people that love me for who I am and have taught me how to love the beautiful person that God created.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
It is accomplishing goals. When I began high school, I set a goal of maintaining good grades. I will be graduating high school with 12 trimesters of being a Scholar of Distinction (having a GPA over 4.0).

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Soon after my confirmation, I had the unique opportunity to assist my youth leader in starting a peer ministry group. I helped to plan a Middle School Girls’ Night that emphasized lasting friendships. . . . I had the opportunity to work with younger girls and be a role model and mentor.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
Youth and young adults want a solid role model that they can look up to. I can’t count the number of times my friends have told me that they are envious of the relationship that I have with my parents and especially my mom. When society is slowly reducing the role and influence of parents, that is when parents most need to become engaged and involved. We want our parents to take an interest and guide us through this stage in our lives.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
The best thing the Catholic Church can do is educate parents on how to best parent in the faith and encourage them to get their children in a faith-based environment — if not a school, a good faith formation program. . . . Faith starts in the home with parents that can discuss their faith with their children.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
St. Cecilia’s life has been an inspiration to me through many struggles and frustrations. She faced every difficulty, including death, with peace that God’s plan would be done. Every time I have been frustrated with my situation or those around me, I would pray for the peace that she had and she would send me a song (at church, on the radio, or even at camp) that would somehow fit the situation and bring me comfort. She also changed the lives of every person that she came into contact with, including her husband. Because of her example, I have tried to be a witness for Christ.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
One of the biggest problems is the lack of respect for life and the desensitization to violence that follows. . . . If we can get back to the respect that we once had for life and for the family, then much of the violence and evil that has gripped our society will dissipate.

What is your favorite quote?
“The Lord replied, ‘My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.’” — Mary Stevenson


Michael Kostick

Church of St. Paul, Ham Lake

Michael Kostick is a student of Padre Pio Homeschool. His parents are James and Paulette Kostick and he plans to attend Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich., to study mechanical engineering.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Staying close to the sacraments is essential to the protection of faith.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One that stands out in my mind is educating and mobilizing young people during the 2010 elections.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Throughout my high school spiritual journey, I had many powerful encounters with Christ. However, the most significant one has been serving at Mass. Being present at the altar has made me significantly more disposed to the graces Christ constantly pours out in the Eucharist.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
Youth are searching for meaning. Today’s post-Christian society drains the true purpose and meaning out of almost every aspect of life. Suffering has no meaning; success has no purpose except self-gratification; and death is the end. Likewise, in today’s age of technology, there is a lack of silence. Many images blend together and become nothing but meaningless noise. This constant noise drowns out the truth about ourselves in our relationship with Christ and his church.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Catholic youth are hungry for the truth. The life-giving teachings of the Catholic Church should not be watered down. Our relationship to the church can be compared to a love story; the more we see of its beauty, the more in love we are with it.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
It would be Pope Pius XII. I would ask for his blessing and console him that his work is saving hundreds of thousands of lives. The battle he fought is the same as the battle we are fighting today for religious freedom and the dignity of human life.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Moral relativism. To begin to fix this problem and heal our culture, we must live our lives as Catholics and become the light in this dark time.

What is your favorite quote?
“Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” — G.K. Chesterton


Thomas Sjoberg

St. Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights

Thomas Sjoberg attends St. Thomas Becket in Eagan with his parents, Mike and Denise Sjoberg. He plans to attend the University of St. Thomas or the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Be yourself.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud to have accomplished scoring more than 1,000 points in my basketball career. What makes it even better is that my dad was there as my coach throughout the whole thing.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The summer after my junior year, I was given the opportunity to travel with the archdiocese to the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya. I spent time with some of the most faithful and spiritual people I have ever met, including boys of my age. The time spent with such deeply devoted people changed who I am as a person and as a disciple of Christ.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
I think one thing that the youth of today really struggle with is expressing their faith and especially talking about it with others.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Teenagers like to do things at their own pace, including finding the right relationship with God.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
John Wooden, coach of the great UCLA men’s basketball teams, has always inspired me because of the way his players respected him. He coached his players to be great on the court and successful leaders off it.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The consumption of natural gas and other natural resources. I think the best way to solve this is to pursue technologies that work on secondary energy sources like wind and solar power.

What is your favorite quote?
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” — John Wooden

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to be myself.


Heidi Schroden

St. Henry, Monticello

Heidi Schroden attends Monticello Senior High School. She is the daughter of Leo and Kay Schroden and plans to attend St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I learned to never give up on something that I’m passionate about and to never procrastinate.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am very proud of my grade point average for my senior year. Maintaining a 4.0 is not something everyone can say they have done.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
When I was in 11th grade, I was a co-director of a confirmation retreat for 10th-graders, and we gave them surprise love letters from their families. I could really feel God’s love in the room. Everyone was crying from the joy and love that they were feeling! It was the best experience I have felt and witnessed.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
The challenges the youth face today would be trying to fit in. Keeping my faith going strong makes my life so much easier, and so many teens just let go of their faith so they feel like they can fit in more with others that don’t go to church.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Teens love opportunities when they can learn about stuff. I found that Bible studies with many different age groups were very fun. Another very fun thing I participated in was “Adopt a Grandparent.” I would visit with an elderly person, normally a new one every month. We would just chat about life and how our faith plays a role in our life and how important it is. I love engaging in conversations and learning more about people and life.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
For many Catholics, no one has influenced their lives more than Mary, the mother of Christ. I would love to have a conversation with her. I would want to learn everything I can about how it was for her to live with the situation she was put in. It would be so interesting to get advice from her on how to live my life in the most chaste ways.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
I believe that abortion should not be legalized. One way that everyone could help would be by just praying. We can also boycott places that support Planned Parenthood by not buying their products or services.  Educate people about abortion.

What is your favorite quote?
“Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, God just promised it would be worth it.” — Glenn Hawkins

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Never give up, ask my parents for advice, not be afraid of what I believe in, and don’t let people manipulate you to do things that aren’t right. But most importantly, have fun!


Vanessa Kathryn Voller

DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis

Vanessa Voller attends St. Pascal Baylon in St. Paul with her parents, Tim Voller and Kate (Partington) Voller. She plans to attend Colorado College in  Colorado Springs.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I have learned in high school is to be accepting of change and to let go of the life I thought I should have in order to live the life that I was meant to have.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am very proud of the lifelong friendships and relationships I have built with my classmates, teachers and other faculty members within my high school. The gift of friendship is one of the most beautiful and powerful gifts one human can bestow on another, and I am grateful for the diverse friendships I have fostered at DeLaSalle.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
While volunteering in a small, rural community in Panama, I lived in some of the world’s most extreme poverty. However, amidst the poverty, I found an immense amount of joy and happiness in the simple lifestyle and was humbled by my host community’s strong sense of faith and gratitude despite the difficulties they faced. My last night in community, I was blessed by my fellow community members. I knew right then I had found my life’s calling.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
One of the major challenges youth and young adults are facing today is the discrimination against their voice. Far too often, youth and young adults are written off as too young, too naive or too inexperienced. “Youth” should not be viewed as a negative characteristic, but rather an opportunity for great energy and innovative ideas.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
We (the youth) are not only the present, but also the future. In order to ensure the longevity of the Catholic Church, it is absolutely necessary that the church become more inclusive and progressive in their thinking and in their action.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet my great grandmother LaVerne Madigan. She was a strong, independent young woman who exemplified the characteristics of selfless giving, perseverance and the spirit of adventure.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Ignorance. Ignorance leads to violence, wars, injustices, poverty and creates many of the pressing problems (environmental issues, world hunger, eco­no­mic crisis, etc.) facing our world.  Education is the key to solving these problems. As one of the world’s leading nations, the United States must invest in education, in our youth and in our future. Education has the power to transform people, to empower people and to create a sustainable, lasting impact on our world.

What is your favorite quote?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell my younger self to live in the moment, cherish the simple things in life and remember to laugh.


Peter Mullen

Holy Family Catholic High School, Victoria

Peter Mullen attends St. John the Baptist in Excelsior with his parents, Kerry and Betsy Mullen. He plans to attend either Boston College or Colgate University.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I have learned is to not get caught up in the routine of school. You need to focus on each day individually and try to get the most out of each day.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am most proud of becoming an AP Scholar. I felt like this was a great representation of all the work I have done.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Freshman year, I visited the Simpson Shelter, which showed me how blessed I am to have what I have, particularly a supportive family.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
I think that parents should know that their support is truly appreciated. Although situations may be different, I know that unconditional love and support can really help a person.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
I think that youth-orientated services would encourage more youth to be involved in the church. I think that as much youth involvement in the Mass as possible and other things, such as homilies directed toward youth challenges, would engage the youth.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet Martin Luther King Jr. because he was a great orator and I feel he preached a good message of equality.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
I think poverty and inequality around the world is one the of the most important issues. . . . It will take a lot of cooperation and unselfishness from many different groups of people.

What is your favorite quote?
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” — Milton Berle

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Take the time to evaluate each day and decide if you were a better person as a result of it. If not, change how you acted for tomorrow.


Jacqleen Moran Cusick

Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Paul

Jacqleen Moran Cusick attends Park High School in Cottage Grove. She is the daughter of William and Rebecca Cusick and plans to attend Inver Hills Community College.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Do your best and you will succeed!

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Completing my Teacher Cadet and Related Service Occupation Internship.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.  
Meeting teachers that have faith in me and have always been there for me.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
Peer pressure and self-esteem. How difficult it is when facing the divorce of their parents.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Offer volunteer work. Offer youth activities.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?   
People or young girls getting kidnapped or getting sold for money. Stay safe, travel in groups, and make safe choices. Don’t drink or take drugs. Have good friends

What is your favorite quote?
“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” — Emile Zola

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?  
Take advantage and be willing to study with your parents more often.


John Eilen

St. Agnes, St. Paul

John Eilen attends St. Agnes Church in St. Paul with his parents, Michael and Kathleen Eilen. He plans to attend St. Thomas Aquinas College in California.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school.
The greatest lesson I have learned in high school is . . . to sacrifice oneself for God, the good of others and for his church. I feel like this is, for the most part, the essence of life.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One thing I am proud of is being selected to the 2011 Men’s All State Choir. It was a goal I never really thought I could reach.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience I had during high school was attending the boys’ vocations pilgrimage to Italy this past fall. We were able to go to Assisi, San Giovanni Rotondo and Rome. I was able to spend nine days with my closest friends, classmates and teachers, who were all growing together spiritually at the same time.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
One thing I have noticed in the past couple of years is that there are certain evil things that are portrayed as cool, so kids take part in these things for the sole reason that they are cool, not because they are evil. . . . Adults can help young people by being a good influence.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
The Catholic Church can encourage outside groups and events. One example would be the St. Agnes Youth Group, which meets every Sunday eve­ning. I feel it is important for some of the truths of the church and the examples of the saints to be reiterated while youth are spending time with friends and having some fun. . . . Another way is through sports.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
St. Peter the Apostle. To have a conversation with someone who lived with, ate with, saw and heard Christ while he was on earth would be a priceless experience.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The overall lack of charity in our society. It seems that people are taught to be materialistic and selfish at a young age. . . . These attitudes and habits would be remedied if people started to make use of one of the most important sacraments — confession.

What is your favorite quote?
“And man, who is a part of your creation, wishes to praise you, man who bears about within himself testimony to his sin and testimony that you resist the proud. Yet man, this part of your creation wishes to praise you. You arouse him to take joy in praising you, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” — St. Augustine


Miranda Eastham

Providence Academy, Plymouth

Miranda Eastham attends St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony with her parents, Mark and Michelle Eastham. She plans to attend the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school.
You can handle more than you think. Never give up too quickly when the going gets rough and the schedule fills up. God will never give you more than you can handle.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of getting more involved in the pro-life movement and the fight to end abortion. It’s so easy not to know what is really going on in the world since the media loves to hide the truth. But knowing the truth and spreading the truth is part of our vocation as Christians.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My theology courses have had the most impact on me throughout high school. I have learned how to live the Christian life, from prayer to morality to what goes on during the Mass. My faith has grown so much from the gradual exposure to the depths and beauties of our Catholic faith.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
I think adults should know that there is a lot of hurt and pressure on the youth of today from many different sources. Technology has made it easier for businesses like the music industry or the movies or places like Planned Parenthood to target youth and exploit their most base desires by offering a product meant to stimulate or encourage the passions and suppress reason. Adults should stay actively involved in countering these messages and communicating to the youth what they really want: the good, the true and the beautiful!

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Spread the truth of the Gospel through media outlets used all the time, like YouTube and Facebook. Offer the message of hope and meaning found in the Catholic faith in ways that the youth will understand and encounter on their own.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with the Blessed Virgin Mary because she was one of the most amazing human beings to walk this earth.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
The problem in the world that most concerns me is the continual disregard for the sanctity of all human life. I think this can be solved if we can establish the fact that there is a moral law recognized by all generations.

What is your favorite quote?
“While there is life, there is hope.” — Cicero


Rachel Beck

Totino-Grace High School, Fridley

Rachel Beck attends St. John the Baptist in New Brighton with her parents, Michael Beck and Rae Ann Williams. She plans to attend the  University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Service allowed me to give of myself to others and expect nothing in return. I gained the pleasure of knowing I was able to make someone’s day a little bit brighter.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Sponsoring my younger sister in her confirmation opened my eyes to the impact I can have on another’s faith.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
As much as we need to grow up and become independent, doing so is a process. Young adults need the guidance and leadership of adults.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Continue to create communities for young adults to learn and grow in their faith together like youth groups that keep young adults connected to the Catholic Church and its members.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Rosemary Kennedy. She was a remarkable woman of character and faith who saw and acted on the value of education.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
I am most concerned by the frailty of many families. Technology and the busyness of life has the potential to disconnect people. We can solve the problem by returning to the simplicity of each other’s company.

What is your favorite quote?
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” — Nelson Henderson


Jack McGinn

Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School, St. Louis Park

Jack McGinn attends St. John’s Episcopal Church with his parents, Ann and Andrew McGinn. He plans to attend Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
To live in the moment and focus on the process instead of the outcome.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I have been able to play two varsity sports at BSM, swimming and baseball. I have learned a lot from these sports and they have introduced me to some of my best friends.

What would you like adults to know about the challenges youth and young adults face today?
Adolescents face many stressors as they develop and work on planning their future. It is helpful to have adults who can help a youth or young adult process their experiences.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the church?
Just as we read the Bible with the context of our modern world, we must view church teaching the same way.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would have a conversation with one of our Founding Fathers, like George Washington, because in politics it is very common to talk about what these men envisioned our country to be and whether we are living up to that.

What problem in the world most concerns you? How do you think it can be solved?
Homelessness. I think that this problem can be solved by promoting affordable housing efforts and improving support for the poor so that people do not need to become homeless.

What is your favorite quote?
“Where else would you rather be than right here, right now.” — Marv Levy

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Category: Graduation