Crystal Catalan This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 30, 2010
I sat in the gym listening to a speech on the expectations for my junior year of high school. My mind was only thinking of ways to make the last week off from school last as long as it possibly could. As usual, orientation proceeded with the introduction of our teachers and new faculty members for the upcoming school year. I decided that it would be a good time to pay attention considering that all my stress will come from the loads of homework each teacher will be sure to assign. All the teachers had been here last year for the exception of the newest campus minister. She was introduced as Ms. Catalan, and at a first impression, I could tell by her big smile that she was probably happier to be here than anyone else in the building.

From what we had been told, I knew that she would devote the next year of her life as a volunteer health teacher and campus minister in our school. I had already taken health which only meant that I would never get to experience her as a teacher, but I was wrong. She taught me more than I could have ever predicted. Ms. Catalan quickly became one of the most involved teachers in the building. She became a moderator of Mission Leaders, Prayer Leaders, and Fridays for life; all clubs which allow us students to grow closer to God whether it is in service or in worship. Her enthusiasm and desire to constantly follow God’s will with an open mind and heart became a blazing fire that swept through the school in a matter of weeks.

I had come to a point in my faith were I needed direction that I couldn’t find by myself. I debated for several days if I should confide in Ms. Catalan being that our only conversations were no more than friendly small talk. I figured that as a Cabrini Mission Corps missioner, who was here to serve wherever her service was needed, she would at least listen to the questions I wished God would answer me. I had nothing to lose except faith and patience without someone’s guidance. I entrusted to her my fears and worries about the Lord. We spent far longer than anticipated talking about faith. I shared with Ms. Catalan my struggles in faith, and the desire to follow the example Jesus Christ has left behind. From the very beginning she encouraged every step I have taken in trying to live out God’s word.

Her face lights up every time an opportunity arises to help someone, who may not have the privilege of food on a regular basis or a bed to sleep in every night. Ms. Catalan has become an integral part of class retreats and mission trips that allow students to encounter God’s love in service and reflection. I admire her for who she is and the missionary work she is involved in. Her door is always open for students to come in for a visit whenever they would like. No matter what she always let me know that she would be there for me, and she has. Eventually Ms. Catalan became a friend whose energy and love for the job that she does constantly inspires my growth and understanding of who I am.

However, her time in New York has become very limited. She will not be returning next year, instead she will be moving to an orphanage in the Philippines at the end of this school year. I can only wish her the best of luck as she continues to follow God’s will for her and hope that she never forgets what her example of faith and charity has done for me. I will never forget the impact she has made on my life and the person I have become because of that. Ms. Catalan has left footprints in my high school journey that will echo for years to come. Her sincere faith will continue to be the light in the lives of those whom she has inspired, including me. As Ms. Catalan moves on to her next mission, I can only assume that she will continue to inspire hearts and spirits as she offers her hand in service. Ms. Catalan deserves all the best and my genuine appreciation for caring as much as she does. The education she has left me with goes far beyond a single year; it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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