Graduates

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Catholic high school graduation ceremonies

10 tips for keeping Catholic in college


Each year, The Catholic Spirit celebrates graduating seniors in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis by asking a selection of them to reflect on their past, present and future.

Chosen by their Catholic schools and parishes, these students have an array of backgrounds, talents and aspirations, but we noticed several commonalities among the 20 featured this year: Four plan to serve with NET Ministries before starting college, four mentioned Steubenville Youth Conferences having a role in their most significant faith experiences, three named St. Mary Magdalene as the historical figure with whom they’d like to talk, and four noted they were inspired by Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkota. All shared a vibrant faith and big dreams. Unique to this year’s selection is the inclusion of twin brothers graduating from Providence Academy.

MaddiDorrainMaddi Dorrain
Forest Lake Area High School, Forest Lake

Dorrain attends St. Peter in Forest Lake. Her parents are Dan and Joan Dorrain. She plans to attend Winona State University.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Stressing out about the little things isn’t worth it. It retrospect, that test, project or game is so little compared to the rest of your life. It’s OK to do bad on a test sometimes.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
This year, I was privileged to qualify for the state tournament for speech. During my speech career, it was my dream to go to state, and I worked incredibly hard this season to have the opportunity to compete, and I am grateful for it.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
This past year I really struggled with what I was going to do after high school. I had my heart set on taking a year off of school and doing missionary work. However, God had a different plan. I had doubts, but I learned that I needed to trust him and he will take care of me because he has a plan for me. I am excited to see where the Lord takes me in college.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
This year I read a book called “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin for a literature class I’m in. The book has some messages that the Catholic Church doesn’t agree with, but it opened my eyes that there are going to be people throughout my life that are going to believe different things than what I believe, and I still have to love them. Ultimately, reading the book made what I believe stronger.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
I am blessed to have a lot of holy friends who call me on everyday. I particularly want to highlight my good friend Maggie Longsdorf. Maggie’s faith inspires me. Her joy and love for God radiates, and she is fearless and rooted in her faith. Maggie is always there for me in times I need advice and prayers, and I am grateful for our friendship.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
It is so unbelievably important to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I think that many people leave the Church because they don’t have that. The Catholic Church is so beautiful for what it stands for and what it teaches, especially the Eucharist. You learn to know Jesus through the sacraments, and knowing him will allow others to see the fruits of the Catholic Church.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would want to have a conversation with Mary Magdalene because of her dedication to Christ. She was there at the foot of the cross, at his tomb, and had a tremendous amount of faith and never stopped following him, even when the worst seemed to happen.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
If I had the opportunity to tell 13-year-old Maddi something, it would be that even when friend groups change, Jesus never leaves.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
In college I plan on studying nursing because I have a passion for helping others. I think it would be awesome if I could use my skills not only to help others, but to minister to them as well. On that note, my top three things I hope to accomplish in life are:

1. Save souls.
2. Save lives.
3. To go to the center of the United States. It’s in Kansas (it’s a weird dream, I know).


 

CharlieEngelCharlie Engel
DeLaSalle, Minneapolis

Engel attends St. Thomas the Apostle in Minneapolis. His parents are Steve and Mary Kate Engel. He plans to attend Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I’ve learned that I can’t do everything on my own. I have learned to rely on God for strength and guidance.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of the genuine relationships that I have made over my four years at DeLaSalle. We live in a day and age where there is much superficiality in our society, in high schools especially. I have tried to put effort into forging relationships that will hopefully be lifelong and fruitful.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would discuss with him the liberating qualities of an excellent education, and the importance of making that possible in impoverished areas throughout the world via the Catholic teachings.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
I had the good fortune of traveling to Rome and Florence with other DeLaSalle students through a DeLaSalle summer trip in 2013. During the trip, two Christian Brothers accompanied us, supplementing our experiences with their wisdom and admirable devotion to their Catholic faith. In Florence, we visited el Duomo, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. God’s manifestation was incredible in these two churches, and my faith grew stronger through the experience.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison has helped teach me the complexity of an experience, and how that is changed by the difference of perspective.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Father Stephen O’Gara has had a large impact on my family and myself. He initiated my faith through baptism, married my parents, and has given a tremendous amount to my parish through his presence as a priest and our community when we have faced difficult times. He is a well-respected man, and a good friend of my father.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
By facilitating programs that encourage youth leadership and activism, especially in impoverished urban areas.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would converse with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. During his long duration as president, he navigated our country through some of the most trying times in history, while prioritizing the poor and needy.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself that there are many different ways to achieve a fulfilling experience in high school. Everyone has preconceived notions about what they expect their experience to be, but God works in inexplicable ways, often in manners that prove to be beneficial long after the initial experience.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I want to become a well-educated, conscious servant leader who finds a profession that utilizes my strengths and brings happiness to others.


 

MichelleGutzmannMichelle Gutzmann
St. Agnes School, St. Paul

Gutzmann attends St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony. Her parents are Mark and Jane Gutzmann. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest thing I learned in high school was to always keep things in perspective. On days when I am overwhelmed with homework and I’m worried about how I am going to finish it all, I remember that in the bigger scope, it is nothing compared to the importance of my relationship with God. This has helped me to worry less about the material things of the world and focus more on knowing, loving and serving God the way I should.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One thing I am proud of accomplishing in high school is keeping my grades above a 3.5 [grade point] average while juggling three sports, choir, the musical, and being involved in other school activities such as National Honor Society and the pro-life club. It has been a busy four years, but the rewards are worth every minute of hard work!

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would ask Pope Francis if he thinks the Church would ever be united again and if so, how it would happen.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
When I was a sophomore I had the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to Rome with some other girls in my school. The trip was the most amazing experience ever, not just as someone who loves to travel, but also spiritually. I felt this indescribable joy, as if God and the saints were nearer there somehow.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
In English class this year, we read Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics,” and it completely changed my understanding of friendship. I learned that a true or “complete” friendship is different than a friendship of pleasure. This has helped me identify and understand my friendships with other people so much better.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
A special role model for me in my Catholic faith is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Her life shows that one does not need to do big things in order to be a saint. Her motto was to do every little thing with great love, and that is my goal that I strive for every day.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other younger adults engaged in the life of the Church?
One thing the Church can do to keep younger adults involved in the Church is to encourage them to explore their faith. I have found that the more I learn and know about the faith, the more I want to get involved in the life of the Church. When I am reading books by saints like Augustine, Benedict, Thomas Aquinas and John Paul II in school, it makes me love the faith even more.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would have a conversation with Blessed Mother Teresa, because she was an amazing example of someone who was not afraid to do whatever God wanted her to do. Also, I would want to see what she was actually like, to be around such a holy person.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to pray, hope and don’t worry.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
The first thing I hope to accomplish in my life is to determine my vocation and live it out; secondly, to learn to love as God loves; third, to show others God’s love.


 

ChristopherKettlerChristopher Kettler
St. Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights

Kettler attends St. Joseph in West St. Paul. His parents are Timothy and Nancy Kettler. He plans to attend the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I have learned in high school is to always be myself. With confidence and support from friends and family, I can accomplish anything.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am very proud to be one of the highest-ranking cadets at St. Thomas Academy. I entered as a shy 14-year-old boy and matured into a confident individual who is well prepared to take on any challenge that the future has to offer.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would have a discussion about how he found God in his life. I am curious as to how God showed him signs to guide him to be the most influential Catholic in the world.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience that I had during high school was the youth Steubenville Conference in San Diego, California, that I attended. I realized how special it was to be a Catholic with thousands of other kids around the country. It was here that I found my Catholic identity and realized how fun it can be to practice the faith.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
The book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand was inspirational to me. Louis Zamperini, the main character and World War II survivor, taught me how to live my life with perseverance, strength and determination. I now look at challenges more optimistically and a desire to achieve.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My Grandma LaVonne is the spiritual role model I can always turn to. She is a devout Catholic who embodies countless values that are important to the faith. Her love and joy that she shares with every person she knows is something to admire.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
The Catholic Church can keep kids engaged in the life of the Church by encouraging them to participate in youth groups. In these youth groups, the Church should emphasize that living a life of faith and service can be fun and very beneficial.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
If I could talk to any historical figure, I would talk to Mahatma Gandhi. His ability to influence those around him is something I would want to learn from. He is an inspiration to many by explaining that the way in which you live your life is how you send your message to future generations to follow.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to always stay true to my values and appreciate everything I have. These simple words are something that I needed to constantly remind myself in the past and will continue to remind myself in the future.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
“Keep the Faith.” This quote by STA alumnus Vince Flynn is something I will have as a cornerstone in my life. I hope to always live by these words. Also, I have aspirations to be an investment banker and be a person whom people can always trust and count on.


 

AnnaMarquardAnna Marquard
Bethlehem Academy, Faribault

Marquard is the daughter of Steve and Mary Marquard. She attends Divine Mercy in Faribault. She plans to serve with NET Ministries before attending Benedictine College in 2016.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Man’s deepest desire is for God. Throughout my years of high school, I realized that no matter how hard I tried to find fulfillment in popularity, humor, academic success, I would remain empty. As soon as I surrendered my plans for my identity and placed them in Christ, I would receive peace, joy and satisfaction.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I was the winner of an essay competition for my parish and the essay prompt dealt with connecting our studies to the message of the Gospels. This award was special to me because I was able to look at the ways my studies reveal truth about God such as his order through mathematics, his beauty in the arts and his creation in sciences.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would ask him about how to better see Christ in others and how to find stronger willingness to sacrifice for and suffer with Christ.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
Eucharistic adoration during Extreme Faith Camp definitely stands out to me as one of the most significant faith experiences during high school. I have helped as a prayer team member and a small group leader for the past few summers. Each year, during the night of adoration, the Lord has revealed amazing things about His love for me and has shown me how each time we allow Him into our hearts, He will show us something new.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
This year, my world literature class read “A Tale of Two Cities,” and this book showed me so much about the power of sacrificial love. The character of Sydney Carton was able to completely change his life and find his purpose because of sacrificial love.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My parents and friends have given me such a strong foundation for developing and living out my Catholic faith, but I would say that one of my biggest spiritual role models is my brother, Father Luke Marquard. His surrender to God’s plan has inspired me to discern God’s will in my own life, and he continuously encourages me to live not for comfort, but for greatness!

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
The biggest aid in engaging young people is to continue preaching the truth. There are so many lies in today’s society, and the emptiness of those lies causes people to search for truth. Giving people the resources to learn more about the truth of the Catholic faith and encouraging them to stay rooted in the sacraments will definitely keep young Catholics engaged.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
It would be really interesting to speak to either Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because both of these men were so influential in protecting the rights of the human person. I think it would be inspiring to speak to them about their courage and conviction in regard to standing up for the human dignity of those least respected in society.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back in time, I would encourage myself to find my beauty and identity solely in Christ and to spend less time on social media.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Do God’s will and be a saint; serve the poor in a different part of the world; visit Rome.


 

AlainaAndersonAlaina Anderson
Hill-Murray School, Maplewood

Anderson attends St. Ambrose, Woodbury, and St. Peter, North St. Paul. Her parents are Lisa and Michael Anderson. She plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Your support system is always bigger than you think.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Becoming co-president of the Sowers of Justice, the human rights club at Hill-Murray School.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
Anything and everything! That man is my hero and my role model. I don’t think I could choose what to talk about. I’d just let him talk about whatever is on his heart.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The Steubenville North Retreat at the University of St. Thomas last summer was a fantastic experience for me. The adoration was so intense and spiritual. I truly felt God’s presence and it filled me with so much joy that I laughed until I cried.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Pope Francis and Mother Teresa are the more well-known role models that I have for my faith life. The other two are my youth minister, Andy Wagenback, and his wife, Coreen.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
One way would be to make Mass more lively. The biggest complaint I hear is that Mass is boring. Personally, I don’t agree with that, but a lot of kids my age think it’s tedious. The National Evangelization Teams (NET Ministries) in West St. Paul does a phenomenal job with their Lifeline Masses to get kids involved and engaged with great speakers and reflective periods of adoration. Adding pieces of what NET does to Mass would be appealing to young adults.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I’d talk with Mother Teresa. She was such a holy and humble woman who did great deeds for the poorest of the poor. I would LOVE to work alongside her for a day (at least) and talk to her all the while.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Be more understanding and try to see past the surface, because there’s a back-story to everyone’s actions and words.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?

1. Make a positive impact in the world
2. Master the art of patience
3. Figure out and carry out God’s plan for my life.


 

PatrickHunterPatrick Hunter
Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, St. Louis Park

Hunter attends St. Bartholomew in Wayzata. His parents are Doug and Julianne Hunter. He plans to attend Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in high school?
Ultimately, the greatest lesson I have learned in high school is to take risks. Life is a series of choices, and those choices are not always easy ones. In my time at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, I have learned to step outside of my comfort zone and pursue new things —academically, socially and extracurricularly.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Throughout my four years at BSM, I am most proud of my academic and personal growth. One of my initial goals as a freshman at BSM was to be the Valedictorian of my graduating class; I have achieved this. But, equally importantly, what I have also learned is how to be a critical thinker — how to see multiple sides of an issue, how to seek to understand the viewpoints of others and how to integrate Catholic social teaching into our work as students and people.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
If I had the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis, I would want to discuss with him the Church in today’s modern society and how the Church can continue to reach the people of the world in a society with so many distractions and forces that oppose the Catholic faith and values. I would like to know his vision for our Church, and how he aims to see it achieved.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
I would not say that I have had “one” significant faith experience during high school; rather, I would say that my faith is, and always will be, a work in progress. I believe I have developed and furthered my relationship with God over the past four years, but I would not single out a single, defining experience.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
The book that I read in high school that has most changed the way I think is “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. Through this allegory, Orwell chronicles the steps to determine a repressive and totalitarian system of government. This has reminded me that it is essential to always question the status quo and be an informed citizen to ensure that the actions of a repressive few do not seize our freedom and our great country.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
I would say that my grandparents are spiritual role models for my Catholic faith. Both have been devout Catholics for their entire lives and remind me of the need for faith in my life, and that it is necessary to make a return to God for all of our blessings.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I believe that in order to keep young adults engaged in the life of the Church, the Catholic Church must stay true to its mission, doctrine and core values, but also remember that it must evolve to meet the needs of people in an ever-changing society. Although change is hard, and must, especially in terms of the Church, be warranted, it is also necessary for its very survival; the Church must not be afraid to change in regards to certain viewpoints, stances and practices.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
If I could have a conversation with a historical figure, it would most definitely be Ronald Reagan. Reagan was definitely one of the most influential presidents of the United States and helped restore conservatism and a desire to work for success across our great nation. I would love to gain insight from such an influential and incredible man.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
The advice that I would give myself is to remember that in the end, hard work is worth it. There will be frustrating times, there will be late nights, and there will time when you want to give up. But in the end, it is worth it and will pay off.

What are the top three things you hope to accomplish in your life?
Achieve professional success in the career path I choose to pursue; work to be the best person I can be; and continue to pursue my involvement in the sport of swimming at a regional, national and international level.


 

CarlyMcDonaldCarly McDonald
Lakeville South High School, Lakeville

McDonald attends St. Nicholas in Elko New Market. Her parents are Pat and Amy McDonald. She plans to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I went on a mission trip to an orphanage in Honduras during my junior year of high school. All of the kids were really happy and strong in their faith. That taught me that no matter how little you have, you will always have your faith, which is the most important thing.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One thing I am really proud of is starting a middle school youth group at our church. Every other month we have gatherings for the middle school kids where they get to spend time with each other playing games and praying.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would ask him for more ideas on to help people want to return to the Church.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
I went to my first Steubenville Youth Conference the summer after my freshman year and it changed my life. It was there that I really made my faith my own and I found a new appreciation for our Catholic beliefs.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My spiritual role model is Father James Adams. He was the priest at our church for most of my time in high school. He taught me to be on fire about my faith and inspired me because he was always so involved with youth at our church.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I think the Catholic Church just needs to keep inviting people to everything that is going on [in] the Church.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would like to talk to Mary Magdalene because she was my confirmation saint name. I would ask her about her experience being with Jesus during the last days of his life and how she felt when she went into the tomb and he was gone.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to relax and not to be worried about anything, because everything will work out with God on my side.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to graduate from college with my teaching degree and teach at a Catholic school. I also hope to get married and have a lot kids. I hope to live a faithful life and give all glory to God.


 

ConnorMcGinnisConnor McGinnis
Holy Angels, Richfield

McGinnis attends All Saints in Lakeville. His parents are Karl Zgoda and Sharon McGinnis. He plans to attend the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I graduated from All Saints Catholic School in Lakeville with an eighth-grade class of 28 people, all of whom knew each other quite well and, by and large, shared the same viewpoint on many things. Being immersed in the life of Holy Angels put me in the position of having to get to know and interact with a far larger and more diverse group of people than I had been used to, which has proven to be useful in helping me grow and learn how to interact with a broad group of people.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Coming in to high school, I was a somewhat reluctant writer. My modus operandi was, “Answer the writing prompt in as terse a way as possible and move on.” Now, I am much more willing to lay out in-depth my thoughts and perhaps even tend toward the wordy end of the spectrum. In short, I am proud of the accomplishment of moving from a writer for whom writing a paper was like pulling teeth to a writer who is comfortable in this medium of communication.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would say my primary interest in discussion would be how best to balance the ideals of pastorality and charity and speak to the teachings of the Church. How should we avoid the extremes of a compassion-without-truth on one side and bloodless, unfeeling argumentation on the other?

Describe the most significant faith experience you had during high school.
During the summer prior to my junior year, I went on a pilgrimage in Wisconsin that involved hiking about 30 miles over a couple of days. Two things in particular stuck out: First, I came to recognize the peace and beauty that can be found in getting away from the modern world with all its distractions. Second, I found a camaraderie among those hiking with me and came to see God more clearly through the friendships I have with others.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
Over Christmas break of my junior year, I read a book by the philosopher Edward Feser titled “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism.” While the title of the polemic is rather provocative, I was exposed to the intellectual underpinnings of the Catholic faith as found in the scholastic thinkers and the Church fathers. The system of natural law adopted by the Church in formulating ethics now had a deeper meaning, and the conception of God and humanity it presented deeply resonated with me.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Father Jonathan Kelly, the previous associate pastor at my parish, and currently a seminarian formator at St. John Vianney College Seminary, stands out to me as a great example. He embodies a humility and compassion that I can only dream of attaining at the present time. His devotion to God and His Church embodies something that I strive for and wish attain someday.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
To give an unhelpfully abstract answer, the Church can properly emphasize the beauty, truth and goodness found in the Catholic faith. More concretely, the ways to find beauty, whether it is found in a charismatic Mass or a Tridentine Rite Mass (to give a couple examples), ought to be provided to the youth in the Church so as to draw them in. The truth of the Church should be communicated through solid catechesis and engagement with the intellectual aspects of the culture. The goodness found in the Church needs to be shone forth by charity and leadership among the clergy and by strong witness from those who sit in the pews each weekend.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would be interested in having a conversation with Aristotle because his system of thought, ranging from logic to ethics, is expansive, systematic, and intuitive. It would be nice to talk with him and learn about how we should understand his writings and how we ought to see the world in light of them.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I’d say it would be to not count on being able to coast through all four years of high school as if I were simply reliving middle-school [level] academics. It is easy to get into a rut and not develop the habits needed for success in school, and that rut should be avoided.

What are the top three things you hope to accomplish in your life?
My foremost goal is to help those I love grow in virtue and make it to heaven (and I suppose it would be nice for me to join them as well). Second, I am entering minor seminary next year, and I hope to eventually make it to ordination day worthy of my office, assuming that is where I am ultimately called. Finally, I would like to continue learning about a variety of topics, such as philosophy, science and history, throughout my life, as learning has come to be a passion of mine.


 

CarlModlCarl Modl
Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul

Modl attends Holy Spirit in St. Paul. His parents are Thomas and Maureen Modl. He plans to attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I’ve taken from high school is to be open to change in your life. Coming in to high school I was very comfortable with where I was at, the people I was with and the situation I was in. When that started to change, I resisted it, which made things harder for myself. Only after accepting it did I grow as a person and become content, and I think that accepting unexpected changes is an important and useful life skill to have.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of being named a National Merit finalist. It isn’t the most impressive accomplishment, but not many people can say they’ve earned it.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
If I could talk with Pope Francis I would ask him about his experience in Argentina and what he learned from serving the people there. I would also ask him what direction he sees the Catholic Church going in, and what, if any, changes he wants to make to get there.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My most significant faith experience happened when my friend Max died during our junior year. It was a tough time for me and a lot of my friends, and it initially left me questioning my faith, but it ultimately grew stronger. A lot of that had to do with who Max was and the faith that he had. It inspired me in a way. The whole experience taught me the importance of faith in times of struggle.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
Of all the books I’ve read in high school, I think “Half the Sky” changed my thinking the most. For anyone who hasn’t read it, the book, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, chronicles the stories of oppressed women around the world and what these women do to overcome the challenges that face them. It underlies the importance of helping women and establishing gender equality while suggesting the best ways to help them. This book completely changed my perspective as it opened my eyes to a reality that I was blind to previously, and I highly recommend it. Now I understand how much the world stands to gain from empowering women.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My mother is definitely my spiritual role model. She really lives her faith, and her example and guidance have helped me be a better Catholic. I don’t know where I would be without her, both spiritually and otherwise, and I hope that my faith can be half as strong as hers is.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
On a larger level, the Catholic Church can keep young adults more involved by focusing more on social justice and giving them opportunities to get involved with it. If you give people the opportunity to do God’s work, and they can see the concrete results of their labor, then they’ll be more likely to stick around. On a more local level, the Church could keep the youth involved via youth groups or similar organizations that keep people active and involved. For example, I’m in a youth group at Holy Spirit parish that has a good combination of fun activities, service, and religious discussion, and it really works well.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I was tempted to go with Jesus here, but I think I would have a conversation with Nelson Mandela. He’s always been a hero of mine, and I would love to be able to sit down with him and talk about his struggle against apartheid and his experience in prison.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back five years, I would tell myself to branch out more in high school, because to this point that’s probably my biggest regret in life. Maybe I would’ve met some of my best friends a little earlier. I would also tell myself to only care about what the people you care about think about you, because I put way too much effort into trying to please people earlier on in high school.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
One thing I really want to accomplish in my life is finding a profession that allows me to help other people and make their lives tangibly better. Hopefully I can find something that I’m good at that impacts the lives of people in need. Another thing I want to accomplish is traveling abroad to several different continents. It’s important to me to experience other cultures and see things from different perspectives. And finally, I’d love to be able to settle down with someone and raise a family at some point. If I can do these three things, I’ll die a happy man.


 

AmyRobbinsAmy Robbins
Home-schooled

Robbins attends Holy Family in St. Louis Park. Her parents are Mike and Tina Robbins. She plans to serve with NET Ministries before attending Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
I am nothing compared to the greatness of God, and his love for me is beyond anything I can imagine. I can’t go through life without him; it’s just not possible.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
Discovering who I am and staying true to myself.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
Honestly, I would probably stand there and smile stupidly. But if I got over my awe, I would ask him about the importance of family and marriage in secular culture today.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The summer before my senior year, I attended Franciscan LEAD the week before the Steubenville Conference at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. LEAD is an in-depth week of training in leadership, evangelization, and discipleship for about forty high school students. The things I learned on LEAD and the people I met changed my life. I was exposed to so much of the truth and beauty of the Church that week along with being set on fire for the Lord. Experiencing LEAD furthered my desire to spend my year after graduation serving with NET Ministries, which I am now doing. The friendships I made that week have been a huge part of my senior year as well.

What book did you read during high school that most changed the way you think?
“So Big,” by Edna Ferber. It speaks of how important beauty is in this world, along with how the decisions we make change the path of our lives in deep ways. It helped me think about what I really care about.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York City. St. Francis has a special place in my heart; his joy, love and free spirit are beautiful. The friars have such joy in them! It’s beautiful to see their lives and what they do for others without thinking of themselves. They are wonderful examples of God’s love and mercy and have always inspired me.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Help us see the Catholic faith as a living thing, something powerful and exciting. For so many young people, the faith is a chore or just another class they had to attend at school and is not a relevant part of their lives. Show us how incredible and mind-blowing the Catholic faith really is.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would talk to Mary Magdalene. I want to know what it was like being so close to Jesus during His years of ministry on earth, how she knew He was God, and how she found the courage to follow him through everything, even his passion and death.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Focus on prayer, don’t worry about the little things, and laugh often! Everyone else is just as confused as you are.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Pursue my love for theatre and the stage, get married to a wonderful man and have as many children as God thinks I can handle, and spread the joy of Jesus’ love everywhere I go.


 

ClaireRothClaire Roth
Holy Family Catholic High School, Victoria

Roth attends St. Hubert in Chanhassen. Her parents are Kent and Joan Roth. She plans to attend the College of
St. Benedict in St. Joseph.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
High school taught me about perseverance. Life brings challenges; you can give up —which will get you nowhere — or you can believe in yourself and press on to accomplish just about anything you set your mind to.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
My high school years have given me an opportunity to explore my faith, discover my strengths and acquire leadership skills. As I graduate, I now feel more confident and prepared to face future challenges with an increased belief in my personal abilities.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
If I were given the honor of meeting with Pope Francis, I would first thank him for being a role model, and an example of what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ to the poor, sick, and suffering. Pope Francis is a humble servant of the people who inspires change in others, and I’d like to discuss with him how we as youth in the Church can motivate others to create positive change in our own communities.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience I had in high school took place on a mission trip that was offered through my school and the Healing Haiti organization. This trip gave me the incredible opportunity to visit Haiti and witness firsthand the poverty and hunger of a Third World country. Amongst all the devastation and hardships these people endured, I was surprised to find such joy and faith in God.

The defining moment for me came after we finished distributing clean water one day to the people living in the city slums. As each team member carried or held the hand of a young Haitian child, we walked to an enclosed area just off the main road. The ground that had previously been a 13-foot pile of trash now held the foundations for a new church and school that was to be built. Despite being in unimaginable circumstances, the children still had hope, as they smiled and began to sing a song in English that every Haitian child knows: “God Is So Good.”

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“The Book Thief” and its characters, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, touched me because they demonstrated such love and compassion during the darkest times of World War II. When all hope seemed lost, there were still willing to sacrifice and do the right thing no matter the cost. It shows that while humans have the capacity to bring about death and suffering, we are also capable of overcoming it with love and compassion.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Growing up I looked to my grandparents as models of what it meant to be Catholic — to love others unconditionally and to be active in service to others. They taught me the importance of faith, family, prayer and the power they carry. They bestowed these beliefs upon my parents, and collectively my grandparents and parents continue to guide me in my faith, and encourage me to be a servant leader.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Today’s youth are more scheduled with activities (sports, dance, academics, clubs, work, etc.) than ever before. The Church is competing for their time and needs to offer opportunities youth can feel positive about and be engaged in. The youth are the future of our Church — listen to their ideas, gain their perspectives and where possible, include them in decision-making and planning. They want to make a difference and be heard.  Offer a variety of activities, be flexible, and include music at Mass that speaks to their generation.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Agnes Bojaxhiu (Mother Teresa) was an incredibly selfless servant leader who was willing to help the diseased, unloved and forgotten of the world. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, which now serves those in need in 133 countries. Just as we are called to do, Mother Teresa began her mission by performing small acts with great love, which, overtime, became small acts that left a tremendous impact.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
You will face many challenges throughout the course of your life, and oftentimes you will feel as if you can’t overcome them. In these darkest moments, you must remember “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” Trust in God and believe that he will help you through anything.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I’d like to use my strengths to earn a medical degree, experience different cultures, and perform missionary work while traveling the world.


 

SamThuesonSamuel Thueson
Stillwater Area High School

Thueson attends St. Michael in Stillwater. His parents are Patrick and Luba Thueson. He plans to attend St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
Everything happens for a reason, sometimes it’s just hard to see.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am very proud of being a member of the Stillwater Area High School Concert Orchestra.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would like to discuss ways to remind people how amazing and beautiful our faith is and how we can show the world the joy in our faith.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
At my parish winter retreat I felt very sick going into adoration on the last night of the retreat. I was wondering how I was going to make it through the night and adoration, and I was feeling worse by the minute, and then Father did something unexpected. He brought the monstrance in front of each of us individually, and as soon as I looked up, all of that pain just melted away that instant. I was fine the rest of the night.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
One book that changed the way I viewed life and how the mind works is “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Lawrence of Rome. He recognized the poor as the treasure of the Church and gave the Church all he had, even his life.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Too many of the youth of the Church are scared away by the complexity of the Church, but we need to be reminded that the core message of the Church is to love each other.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
Tchaikovsky. Very few people have felt as much pain, and yet he still wrote such beautiful music.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself that the only real way to fail is to give less than all I have to give.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Remember who I am, write a film score and build a boat.


 

JosephWeilerJoseph Weiler
Totino-Grace High School, Fridley

Weiler attends St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony. His parents are Dan and Carol Weiler. He plans to attend the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned in high school was to push myself outside of my comfort zone and to treat every day as a gift.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of being a captain of our football team and of how we grew together throughout the season. We matured and developed as men. Our football season was successful, but what stands out were the tremendous and lasting lessons from our coaches, from each other, and from our manager, Rachel Woell, who passed away during the season. We were so privileged to accompany her on her journey home to God.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would ask Pope Francis about his prayer life and relationship with God. Also, I would want to hear about his work with the poor and how that has influenced his papacy.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
In the past year, my grade has lost two classmates. Although it was difficult at times to feel God’s presence in the midst of loss, our school was able to come together to support each other and pray together. Since then, prayer and the Mass have taken on a whole new meaning in my life.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning,” which details his experiences in a concentration camp during World War II, helped me understand the importance of our attitude in life, especially when faced with adversity.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
Matt Birk, a former professional football player, is someone who I admire and try to emulate because of how he roots his life in faith and how he acts as a genuine, Catholic man.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
The Church can engage us by going out into the community and providing additional learning opportunities that team parishes and schools.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would speak with Teddy Roosevelt. His military experiences, political career and explorations fascinate me.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Volunteer as much as you can. You’ll find that the people you serve with and those you serve are some of the most kind and insightful you’ll meet.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I would like to become a neurologist, have a family, and bring myself and others closer to God.


 

TrentWiebuschTrent Wiebusch
Providence Academy, Plymouth

Wiebusch attends St. Anne in Hamel. His parents are Brent and the late Laurie Wiebusch. Along with his twin brother, Trey, he plans to serve with NET Ministries before attending Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson I learned in high school was to be a patient and diligent man. Providence Academy forms its young men and women to be people of faith, knowledge and virtue. I fought through three surgeries while in high school, as well as the death of my mother, due to breast cancer, when I was in middle school. I learned a lot about what truly matters in life, as I grew in perseverance and patience. Ultimately, how to authentically love someone as a brother or sister in Christ: that was the greatest lesson of all, and PA was instrumental in teaching it.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One thing that I am incredibly proud of accomplishing in high school, besides a successful four years of football, is my achieving a 4.0 grade point average. I spent a lot of time, energy and effort working towards this goal that I had set for myself when I first entered into the Upper School at Providence Academy. Because of Providence’s rigorous curriculum, this was indeed a high goal, but I am exceedingly satisfied to know that I triumphed in this quest, and the journey, full of life lessons was priceless.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
In a conversation with Pope Francis, I would discuss manners of improving Christian church unity among the many denominations. All Christians in the modern world must unite as one to face the evils of this world as the church militant. I would ask the Holy Father how this would be done in a humble yet powerful way, as well as specifics to bringing about this unity, and any future plans he might have.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience I had in high school was in the winter of my junior year when right after adoration had ended, I was asked by my dear friend what I thought was in the tabernacle. I was a Lutheran at the time, and I responded that I knew in my heart that Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, was present in that chapel and that I thirsted for him. This thirst was quenched when that following June, I converted to Catholicism and was confirmed into the Catholic Church on Pentecost, receiving my Lord for the first time as a Catholic.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
In my moral theology class at PA, we read “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis, a brilliant series of realistic fictional letters from a devil to his “nephew” who is working on damning a soul on earth. These letters are incredibly powerful as they brought me to realize all of the little ways that the evil one uses to tempt us and to get us to fall. This book definitely strengthened my approach to spiritual warfare and the discussions in class brought up excellent points about how to survive in the modern world that is permeated with propaganda for sin.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
A major spiritual role model for my faith is my confirmation saint, St. Edwin of Northumbria. Although he is not a very well known saint, he stood out to me as a hero of both bravery and humility. Like me, he was a convert, and his authentic devotion to Christ led him to be a martyr, fighting the armies of the pagans in defense of his nation and of Christianity. He is the patron saint of kings and the homeless, for his humility and zeal of faith led him to burn the idols of the old gods in England. As one of the patron saints of converts, he has influenced my spiritual journey to be a beacon, like he was to his people, through which the light of Christ can shine to the world.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I think that the Church needs to provide more opportunities for charismatic prayer and adoration. I know we do this at school every Friday morning, and one of the churches I go to regularly has a more contemporary Mass. Also, providing spiritual advisers to pastorally care for small groups of young adults to form them in authentic and vulnerable brother and sisterhood. Finally, finding ways to frequently provide the sacraments in an appealing, yet reverent manner.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love speak with J.R.R. Tolkien about his Catholic faith and how it influenced his career as an author and professor. I am a big fan of Tolkien, and I would love to talk with him about his books, which have had a lasting impact on me. To talk with such a great mind of the 20th century would be such a powerful and moving blessing.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back in time I would advise myself to find a way to enjoy every moment, especially the tough ones. I would also tell myself to pluck up the courage to convert to Catholicism sooner. The Church has so much to offer, and I wish I could have been a part of it sooner.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Generally, I hope to become the best version of myself. I want to find a career where money is not an object, but rather, passion for my job is the goal. Whether this is in teaching or business or medicine, I am just not sure of right now. Secondly, I want to become a model of authentic manhood to my future wife and our children, if that be the will of God. Lastly, I desire to impact people with my faith and show them the love of Christ. I have an incredible opportunity to do that next year with NET Ministries, and for this I praise God.


 

TreyWiebuschTrey Wiebusch
Providence Academy, Plymouth

Wiebusch attends St. Anne in Hamel. His parents are Brent and the late Laurie Wiebusch. Along with his twin brother, Trent, He plans to serve with NET Ministries before attending Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The greatest lesson that I have learned in high school is how to become an authentic and chivalric Christian man. Providence Academy does an excellent job of forming not only educated men and women, but also men and women that are instilled with faith and virtue, as well as knowledge. I remember my first day of freshman year; a particular faculty member teaching world history called us men out and said that in his class we would learn to be chivalric men. We lived by that principle, and as I look back on my four years at Providence Academy, I see the fruits of that virtue. Education has no purpose if it only educates the mind. The soul cries out for formation as well, and it is truly a blessing that Providence provides that.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I am proud of accomplishing a 4.0 grade point average over the course of my high school years. But more importantly, I am proud of the work that I put in and the process that I underwent to achieve that. I am more proud of the journey and the knowledge of myself I have gained than the result.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would discuss discernment with him. I would especially ask about how he knew God was calling him to be a shepherd of the Church. Then I would talk about my own discernment with him, and how to never miss God’s call for my life. Beyond this I would ask Pope Francis what life is like leading the universal Church that has existed longer than any country ever has.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The most significant faith experience I have had was during my senior retreat this past December. In particular, there was a small group session and then eucharistic adoration, and both were very powerful and helped reveal the love of God to me in awesome ways. Also, my conversion to Catholicism played a huge role in my life and has formed me in incredible ways.

What book in high school did you read that most changed the way you think?
The book that most enlightened my mind in conjunction with my faith was the “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales. He lays out in simple yet powerful words the roots of a devout Catholic lifestyle. His section on frequent Communion perfectly complemented my conversion and the thirst I was experiencing for the Eucharist during my junior year when we read the book.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
A role model for my faith is St. Martin of Tours, principally due to his humility and the fact that he was a catechumen as I was. I am inspired by his humility, compassion, and service to all. He believed in obedience and above all mercy. For me he represents a great example of a soldier of Christ, something that we are all called to.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
In my opinion, the Church could offer weekly young adult “Faith Nights.” This could include eucharistic adoration with praise and worship afterwards, and small group discussions based on the Gospel for the day. Many churches are starting to do similar things, but not to this extent. Also, there could be confessions available beforehand.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to converse with Abraham Lincoln because he had to deal with tremendous stress, and I am interested as to how he overcame the obstacles in his life. It would be incredible to hear one of the greatest American leader’s opinions on a war stricken country, and perhaps his experiences with reconciling his beliefs with said disastrous war.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to be more loving towards others and to start a brotherhood sooner. Currently, my very close friends and I are in a brotherhood focusing on living as Catholic men in the modern world. This practice is awesome and includes great spiritual fruits. I wish that we had started this brotherhood five years ago instead of this past year, as the growth would be that much more powerful.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in you life?
First, find the will of God in every decision and do it, for Divine Providence works in awesome ways and the will of God is never for ill. I trust that he will care for me and form me into the man he calls me to be. Secondly, I hope to work in a field where each and every day I love working there and bring glory to God. I am currently undecided in my future career, but I aim to do something I love to do. Finally, I hope to continue to learn about and live out authentic manhood, and then pass it on to my sons and other young men.


 

ElizabethWollanElizabeth Wollan
Convent of the Visitation, Mendota Heights

Wollan is a parishioner of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul. Her parents are Robert and Carolyn Wollan. She plans to attend Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
There is a grace in being authentic in relationships. You develop loving, nourishing relationships by letting those around you in to see your true self. Also, there is something to be celebrated and learned through every relationship, experience and person who enters your life.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would discuss how best the youth of today can provide a faith-filled example in the Church and I’d like to know the source of his joy in his faith. He lives the Catholic faith with a grace, and I’d really love to listen to his wisdom on revitalizing our faith in the world today.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
This year a couple of classmates and I planned a schoolwide prayer service to pray for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. We gave each student a name of a Nigerian girl as a tangible reminder of these girls halfway across the world our same ages with our same goals — to learn and grow as young women in order to share the future of our world. That moment of solidarity and praying as a community was so powerful.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
Ann Patchett’s novel “State of Wonder” opened my eyes to the complexities of the world in regard to humanity, and how we interact with one another and our environments. It highlighted an individual’s global responsibility. Francine River’s “The Mark of the Lion” series has also been very impactful, as it has given me fresh perspective on my faith.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
The Visitation Sisters have guided and mentored me with a loving, compassionate example of the Catholic faith and have shown me the power of gentle strength and the importance of joyful trust in God through all of life’s endeavors.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Keep showing us that you are listening and that our opinions are valuable and vital to the present and future of the Church. Help us understand doctrine and understand that we value tradition but want to continue to question, develop and grow with our faith. Keep engaging with us.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to have a conversation with Maya Angelou or Eleanor Roosevelt — both are women who used their voices to speak out against injustices and worked towards raising awareness and creating positive change in the world around them. I admire their strength and courage and would love to learn from their wisdom.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Enjoy every moment, celebrate the little things and don’t get so focused on the path you’re on that you miss the journey you’re taking.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
I hope to get married and raise a family, get involved with Teach for America, and work with the United Nations to help defend a woman’s right to education and promote global literacy.


 

LesbyAmpueroLesby Ampuero
Humboldt High School, St. Paul

Ampuero attends Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul. Her parents are Oswaldo Ampuero and Rosario Abad. She plans to attend the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
To never give up and always keep my head up.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
I’m proud of being in the National Honor Society.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
I would ask him if he has ever spoken to God, and how does it feel to be a pope.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My biggest fear was getting rejected from a college that I applied to, but when I got my first acceptance letter from the UMN, I knew it was God who helped me, and I would never stop thanking him.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My spiritual role model is Mother Teresa.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Create better youth programs

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
It would be Pope John Paul II. He was such an inspiring person to me, and he did a lot for people around the world.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Never procrastinate!

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Be a professional, have a family and a big house, grow more spiritually.


 

MariaGodinezMaria Godinez
Hill-Murray School, Maplewood

Godinez attends Ascension in Minneapolis. Her parents are Ernesto and Maria Godinez. She plans to attend the College of Biological Science at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The most important lesson I learned in high school was to accept myself and others by who they are. I learned to love my culture and background. The opportunity to know myself helped to try to explore other religions and cultures. Thanks to those experiences, I am a better rounded person.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
There have been many memorial days in my high school career. The club that has most helped me to develop professionally has been DECA. DECA is a business organization that has an annual competition in a variety of categories, for example, marketing plans, sales demonstrations and interviews. I won first place district in Entrepreneurship Plan and first place state in Team Marketing Plan.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
If I had an audience with Pope Francis I would like to discuss how can future marriage deal with technology to keep faithful and raise their children the Catholic faith. I admire my parents’ marriage, and I would like one that is as authentic as theirs, but I worry that current trends can make a marriage like theirs difficult.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
The biggest faith growth I had was while teaching catechism at my church. I learned to appreciate the value of my Catholic education and how it helped me to become the person I am today. My students are persistent and attentive and those characteristic transmits hope for the future. My faith constantly gives me hope to succeed and never give up.

What book did you read in high school that most changed the way you think?
“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer was a book that definitely help me appreciate my education, parents, food and opportunities. He showed tenacity because he did not rest until he was able to build a windmill. His windmill brought energy to his community and it made life more comfortable. I aspire to change to my community in a special way like William.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
There have been many spiritual role models I look up to that it is difficult to mention all of them. I would like to start with my aunt Veronica, who despite a life changing event, she kept close to God. She embraces prayer and always has a kind heart.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
Young people need to be given more responsibility and confidence. I agree we as teenagers can be irresponsible, but how are we supposed to learn responsibilities if no opportunities are given to us.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to have spoken Albert Einstein. I am so passionate about science that it would be extremely neat to speak about some theories I have and clarify how his curiosity started. I would also like to ask, “what distinguishes a good and bad contribution to the science world?”

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Dear Maria, School is important, but it is also appropriate to have fun. Also, once you apply to college, trust the process because you’ll get in into the best college for yourself. Please, even in moments of stress, try to keep calm, and the most important, remember to live in the moment.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
My first goal in life is to successfully major in neuroscience, attend medical school and become a psychiatrist. My second goal is to continue to grow my relationship with God through service, understanding, and compassion for others. My final goal is to be happy by always being positive.


 

AlbertoVergaraAlberto Vergara-Zuniga
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Minneapolis

Vergara-Zuniga attends Assumption in Richfield. His parents are Alberto Vergara and Elvia Zuniga. He plans to attend St. John’s University in Collegeville.

What is the greatest lesson you learned in high school?
The one greatest lesson I have learned while being in high school would have to be to keep faith in the Lord. There have been multiple instances during the four years that I have had my faith challenged, and God has always shown me why he truly is the biggest force known to man. All he asks of you is to believe in him and he will never leave you stranded by yourself.

Name one thing you are proud of accomplishing in high school.
One thing I am extremely proud of would be leading my senior class on the Kairos retreat. We have a retreat to relax and remind ourselves of the community we have around us. We spend three days on God’s time learning to open relations and re-establish relations that could have been broken. I was extremely proud to lead the retreat as I was named rector. I was able to experience my class grow into a strong community and see God’s beautiful spirit touch each and every one of my friends.

If you could have an audience with Pope Francis, what would you discuss with him?
One very important aspect in my life is leadership. I was taught that leadership is meant to serve others. I would love to know how to better enhance my leadership skills by knowing how the pope has seen the most effective leaders work. I would want to know how he fully understands leadership.

Describe the most significant faith experience you have had during high school.
My sophomore year was the time when I had my most significant faith experience. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and would have to undergo surgery. My life seemed completely normal, and I had put in so much hard work to earn my spot at school and at sports. This surgery was scheduled to take me out of my daily life for three months. Recovering from my surgery was the most difficult time that I have spent. I blamed God for so much, yet he was the only reason I was able to make it through and wake up every day. It strengthened my faith when I was back up in about a month and completely caught up with school in another month. My bond with God grew so strong that there is almost nothing that I would not trust him with.

Who is a spiritual role model for your Catholic faith?
My dad is my most important role model for me, especially with my Catholic faith. He has brought me into this wonderful life and has shown me how to stand by God. He is heavily involved in the community, and many people from the parish look up to him as do I. When there are tough situations going on around the world or the house, he never loses faith in God. He has shown me that God truly does provide you with what you need.

What can the Catholic Church do to keep you and other young adults engaged in the life of the Church?
I love to play the drums and I learned how to at my church. I feel like everyone can use their talents to serve the community and that will help many young adults stay engaged. Many love to run fundraisers or plan a special day for the community. The community just needs to give chances to those young adults to find what they really love to do and help the community out in that way. I found that many young boys love to see me play the drums, and they come to see me play and I can help them by showing them the importance of Mass and also keep them engaged with music. That being said, many young adults can help lead and motivate others to come and to stay engaged.

If you could have a conversation with a historical figure, who would it be and why?
I would love to talk to Samson. While I was growing up, his story was one of my favorite stories to hear from my dad. His story shows how society can really drive you away from God even though he has given you so much strength. There have been many times when God has given me the strength I need to keep moving forward and society seems to want to push me away from him.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to be more organized with my time. There have been way too many times when I procrastinate and never get things done. I need to be more organized with all the time I have and be able to fully set priorities and not procrastinate.

What are the top three things that you hope to accomplish in your life?
Graduate and earn an amazing job; raise my children with love and guidance; change people’s lives.

 

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