Spotlight on grads: Melbourne graduate strives to live eucharistically

Jun 1, 2023
Senior and valedictorian from Melbourne Central Catholic High School, Eva S., volunteering more than 250 hours. From leading Edge, a youth group offering a closer encounter with Christ to leading a cheerleading and LifeTeen camp, and serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. she is Eucharist to those around her. (DEAN STEWART PHOTOGRAPHY)

MELBOURNE | Eva S. is a model of Eucharistic living. The recent graduate of Melbourne Central Catholic High School, serves her parish and community, sharing God’s love through all she does.

As an Edge leader, a youth ministry providing a safe place for young people to explore their faith and experience Jesus in a personal way, she creates games and activities to “bring youth closer to God.”

“Growing up I always had people leading me to Christ through example,” noting other Edge leaders who were close to her age. “I wanted to be that person for people younger than me.”

Nick Regina, school president and principal, said Eva, who is the class of 2023 valedictorian, completed more than 250 hours of community service, well beyond the required amount. Helping lead school retreats, she also serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at her parish, Holy Name of Jesus in Indialantic where she began as a parishioner at age 3.

“It means so much to give such an amazing gift,” she said about the Eucharist. “I feel very in touch with  what it truly means and I pray for those people who I am giving the Eucharist. It’s made a difference in my life because I feel more connected to the Eucharist. And serving others makes me a happier person. I feel like I’m making a small difference in one person’s day.”

Eva said her first encounter with Christ was in middle school when she went to a LifeTeen summer camp. “There was a priest who spoke, after Adoration about letting go of the chains we hold on to,” she recalled. “Then he dropped a bunch of chains on the floor.” The sound struck her heart, encouraging her to draw closer to God.

Later, in high school, while others were having deep, “eye-opening” experiences on yet another summer camp, she found herself simply there for them. She wondered why. A camp counselor told her it was likely because she is a “rock for others.” “I took that and ran with it,” she said. It ignited an even deeper commitment to serving others, not only at her church, but also through cheer, leading as cheer and tennis captain, and helping younger girls during camp, sharing her cheerfulness with her classmates and giving an example to those younger than her.

Her eldest sister is discerning a vocation to religious life. Eva says it is an attribute to the devotion modeled by her parents. “They make family primary in their life” and conversations about anything are always open for discussion, from faith to world issues, she said. Although the family frequently travels, they are always certain to find a church where they can celebrate Sunday worship.

Growing up at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School, then Melbourne Central Catholic High School, she plans to go to the University of Florida to major in business.

She said Catholic School taught her “inclusivity”. She currently works with the Peer Inclusion Team Crew, with students struggling academically or with learning disabilities.” It also taught her the importance of prayer, which is a large part of the school day. She said it’s a reminder, “of who we’re doing this for. We’re doing it for God.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, June 1, 2023