Leading by example

Winter Springs High School senior Sarah C. receives the Christus Vivit National Youth Award from St. Stephen Parish Pastor, Father John Giel on Global Celebration of Youth Day, Nov. 21. Sarah volunteers in her local food pantry and with her parish middle school catechism students. (COURTESY)

WINTER SPRINGS | Leading by example is how Sarah C. tries to follow Christ. Impressed by her selflessness, St. Stephen Parish Youth Director Laurie DeLuca submitted the senior’s name as a candidate for the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry’s Christus Vivit Award, which recognizes young Catholics who help bring Christ to their communities. Sarah won, receiving her award Nov. 21, on the Global Celebration of Young People day.

Previously volunteering at a food pantry near her home, Sarah called DeLuca last August in the hopes of expanding her realm of service. Because she was a high school student, DeLuca assumed she needed service hours for graduation. She was surprised to discover Sarah just wanted to help out. “I thought it was wonderful,” DeLuca said.

She eased the Winter Springs High School student in with simple tasks during faith formation classes. Seeing her comfort level with the students, she raised the bar. “She is such a good role model for the middle schoolers since she is so close to their age, so that was fabulous. She goes over and above,” added DeLuca. Soon Sarah began assisting students with various service projects. “The main thing that stood out is that she is always sharing her own story. She is very spiritually filled; she loves sharing her stories with the younger kids,” she said.

The award was a surprise to Sarah, who deflects attention and prefers a low profile. Explaining her passion for caring for others, she said, “I like service, in itself, because I like helping other people. I’ve been blessed with so much in my life. It only makes sense to help other people.” Not far removed from her own middle school years, she says she loves helping this age group because she’s “been there” and knows “…it’s important to have people care.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, December 09, 2021