Spotlight on grads: Super volunteer mirrors parents’ good works

Madeline (left) with mentor and childhood babysitter Jessica Smith, pastoral associate at Church of the Epiphany in Port Orange. (COURTESY)

Madeline R., Father Lopez Catholic High School, Daytona Beach

Madeline R. is a supernatural volunteer. Leigh Svajko, president of Father Lopez High School in Daytona Beach, describes the graduating senior as “a stellar student, but her most notable quality is her faithfulness.” She qualified that statement underscoring the young woman’s work at the Basilica of St. Paul and her ministry work at Church of the Epiphany in Port Orange.

Over a student’s four years at Father Lopez, they are required to log 100 service hours to live out the social justice themes to which all Catholics are called. Madeline tripled those hours.

She has been a lector, altar server, faith formation teacher and youth group leader. She loves to serve because she loves meeting new people. “I love hearing the stories of life from everyone. But I also think knowing you have a community is the most important thing in service.”

This year, the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry recognized Madeline as a Christus Vivit award winner. To qualify, students must demonstrate Christian service and stewardship, advocate for those in need, model Christian living and serve as a light for the world.

Madeline said she mirrors her parents’ faithfulness. They’ve both served as catechists, which is where Madeline began to serve.

“I know that life can be very difficult, and people need a little help sometimes” she said. “I think it’s important to make sure that people get what they need in life. And I love helping out to make sure people live out the best life they can, even if it’s just in Vacation Bible School or a soup kitchen.”

The senior likens her service to the Gospel teachings of discipleship. “The New Testament offers a hard to reach, but amazing example of who we should embody. We’re taught to be like Jesus, but that is very hard to do… Knowing I can strive to be a disciple helps me and is easier for me to grasp.”

Madeline plans to attend Valdosta State University in Georgia for nursing, then hopes to complete her studies through the U.S. Air Force ROTC. “It’s a serving thing for me,” she says. “I want to repay the gift of service.”

May 25, 2023