Finding faith and lasting community

| May 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

Carissa Quintanilla was feeling like a number while attending a public high school during her freshman year.

Carissa QuintanillaShe wanted a change and to feel more connected to others.

“I thought about coming to a private school,” she said, “because it would be much smaller.”

She decided to visit St. Agnes School in St. Paul. She spent a day shadowing a student and visited classrooms to taste the atmosphere.

“I felt at peace being here,” she said. “It was more like a community, rather than just being a big place where I didn’t know anybody, and nobody really knew me. I felt like I had a spot here. It’s very communal here, and it’s like a family and they include you right away as soon as you come through the doors.”

On her shadowing day, she had met the student’s friends. When she arrived at the start of sophomore year, those students became her friends.

Their faith also became her faith.

Although she had been baptized Catholic and received first Communion, her family did not attend Mass regularly, and she “didn’t have a faith.”

“I remember coming here, and I felt very nervous, thinking, ‘This is the first time I ever had any religion class,’” she said. “Before every religion class, we would pray a decade of the rosary. Everybody was praying a Hail Mary and I was, like, ‘Oh, I don’t know this prayer.’ It was all very, very new to me. It was kind of overwhelming, but at the same time it was … cool.”

She absorbed the classroom discussions about the faith and especially enjoyed reading works by philosophers such as Plato and Socrates. She hopes to continue to study philosophy in college, with plans to attend Bethel University in St. Paul in the fall and eventually go to law school.

As she continued to learn more about Catholicism, her faith grew to the point where she desired to receive the sacrament of confirmation. She did so April 19, less than two months before graduation.

“I think the most meaningful part is that I know now this is a community I’m always going to be part of, and it’s more of a family rather than just people that teach me and I go to school with,” she said. “These are people I’ll probably have relationships with for the rest of my life.”

She’s had her share of extracurricular activities, but it’s the faith element that she finds the most meaningful — and plans to keep as a permanent part of her life. “I think my faith is going to be a strong part in wherever I go and end up in the world,” she said. “One of the best things that could have happened to me is coming here. So, I think I’ll be able to take my strong faith with me and spread that [to] other people.”

Graduation 2018 — Special Section

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Category: Graduation