High school graduates will lean on faith
The high school years are an exciting time of growth – through academics, co-curricular activities, faith formation and service to others. And dedicated parents, teachers, pastors, parish religious education instructors, campus ministers, youth ministers and many others help shape the faith lives of students throughout the archdiocese.
The Catholic Voice asked eight 2016 graduates how their faith has been nurtured during their high school years, how it has helped them meet challenges and enjoy accomplishments, and how they will use that foundation of faith to meet the new challenges of college, work or military life:
Katheryn Caskey, Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School in Bellevue and St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion; plans to major in nursing at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
"Being able to go to Gross Catholic has been a huge blessing for me. I’ve grown in my faith so much the last four years. Our former campus minister, Father Steve Emmanuel, impacted my faith life a lot. He’s a great role model in living out Jesus’ teachings and helped me make my faith my own. I think I’ll always remember and try to live out the lessons I learned from him.
"The Marianist organization, LIFE (Living in Faith Experience), impacted my faith as well, through the monthly meetings and weeklong LIFE retreat. LIFE helped me grow personally closer to God, but also helped me learn how to share my faith with my peers. One of LIFE’s main goals is to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable enough to share with each other, so I hope to keep spreading that feeling of community as I move on to college."
Emily Hausmann, Lynch Public School in Lynch, Sacred Heart Parish of Boyd County – St. Mary Church in Spencer; plans to attend Northeast Community College in Norfolk and major in agricultural animal science.
"I have been blessed with parents who set the example of attending Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days and by being active in the church as a priority in our lives. I believe this has been what has nurtured my faith during my high school years. I have also nurtured my faith by attending CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) activities at my church and participating in retreats such as Quest and Totus Tuus. Praying the rosary with family has helped me with life struggles, along with praying in the morning and before bed. Turning to God and Mary allowed me to achieve the high level of academic scores, accomplish success in my curricular activities, and has allowed me to make it through life’s challenges that face high school students today.
"I was given a solid foundation of faith to begin my college career. My faith will help me when I face situations that will test my faith. I will continue to attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Days and turn to Mary for help by praying the rosary."
Andrew Lundgren, Millard West High School in Omaha and St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna; plans to attend Wayne State College majoring in criminal justice.
"My faith has helped me become a better person. I feel it has led me toward a path of success in high school. It has taught me right from wrong and when to make good decisions. As our parish continued to grow, I tried to stay involved and help in any way I could.
"I will carry with me to college the memories of attending and contributing to St. Charles Borromeo Church as an altar server, EMHC (extraordinary minister of holy Communion) and parishioner. Father Hunke has been a big part of my guidance and growth as a Catholic. There will be many challenges I will face in college. I will use my past experience to help guide me along."
Rebekah McGill, Guardian Angels Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School and St. Mary Parish, both in West Point; plans to attend Northeast Community College pursuing an associate of applied science degree in horticulture and golf course management with a diploma in business.
"Throughout the 14 years I spent at Guardian Angels Central Catholic, my faith was constantly being nurtured. I was being prepared for entering the real world from a young age. I was taught that no matter what happened in my life, God would always be there for me. Without my faith, I have no clue where I would be in life. My faith is what has gotten me through the hardest times of my life. My faith has helped me to conquer trials and work through health issues.
"Going to a school where we don’t pray at the beginning of each class period will definitely be an adjustment. I will use my faith to place full trust in God, to follow his plans instead of chasing my dreams. I know that I can lean on God and that with him by my side, I can conquer anything."
Noah McPhillips, St. Francis High School and St. Francis Parish, both in Humphrey; plans to go to a four-year college in Wayne or Kearney and major in musical education.
"My faith has been used in every aspect of my life, even though it is hard to keep on fire. I attend JC Camps, Quests, and have gone to and worked at a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) throughout all my years to keep it going strong. At St. Francis School, we pray an Our Father before and after EVERY game, which makes me very proud of my school and faith.
"I will use my foundation of faith to choose relationships that I know will be with me for a long time. Those relationships can help me find employers or even clients in my future work endeavors. My faith foundation will help me defend that faith through the knowledge I learned in my Catholic Replies class and through the knowledge of other religions as well as my own."
Jacob Ramaekers, Mount Michael Benedictine School near Elkhorn and St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha; plans to attend Wyoming Catholic College to study Catholic liberal arts in a Great Books program.
"I have had great faith support from the monks and teachers here at Mount Michael. They helped me develop a prayer structure by praying before every school day and before most classes and holding almost weekly Masses. I have learned an immense amount of theology from my teachers here as well. Any time I have success, I know I could not have done it without Christ’s guidance.
"My foundation of faith will help me meet challenges that arise in college because I have a solid rock and foundation in the Eucharist. The Lord is bigger than my problems; all I will have to do is ask for help. I believe my upbringing in the faith has also given me a foundation of moral values. Being formed by Christ-loving people all my life gives me a desire to do what is just and right, no matter the consequences."
Alexandra Schulz, Mercy High School and St. Joan of Arc Parish, both in Omaha; plans to attend Metropolitan Community College and obtain a physical therapy degree.
"Mercy’s three building blocks – faith, knowledge and service – gave me opportunities to strengthen my faith more than I could have imagined, especially through the Kairos four-day immersion retreat. Kairos means ‘God’s time,’ and during the four days, I became a better version of myself and more rooted in my faith life. Since attending a Kairos retreat, I have been able to become a student leader. The impact Kairos had on me also helped my academic life in that I am working toward God’s plan for me.
"Faith has become the center of who I am. Before Kairos, I had just attended Mass as a weekly ‘to-do.’ Since then, it has become the day I look forward to. Since college is an entirely new ball game, I plan to stay true to myself and continue weekly Mass as I keep my heart open to what God is calling me to do.
"As I pursue a career in physical therapy, I will use the foundation of Kairos and the spirit of Mercy to keep my faith strong. If I am faced with obstacles, I will first pray about it and try and go in the direction that God has for me."
Mitchael Sieh, Stanton High School and St. Peter Parish, both in Stanton; plans to attend the University of Nebraska Omaha to obtain a degree in architectural engineering.
"Until high school, no one really questioned my faith; but as I was exposed to other beliefs, my faith was tested. Although this test was one of the greatest obstacles that I faced throughout my high school career, it was also one of the best experiences, since my beliefs were reinforced and my relationship with God became stronger as a result.
"I feel that my faith is unwavering, but I understand and expect others to continually question my beliefs, especially in the liberal atmosphere of college. I also understand that I do not have all the answers to these questions, but it is up to me to seek out other disciples on campus and in the surrounding community to further develop my faith. Although this next step in life will be challenging, I know I will not be walking alone since I will have God by my side."