Congratulations Thomas Matthews and Amelia Steele!
The Office of Vocations of the Diocese of Columbus and the Face Forward: Connecting Catholic Youth program are pleased to announce Thomas Matthews and Amelia Steele as the winners of this year’s Service Awards.
In its 9th year, the Service Awards recognize two students in the Columbus Diocese in grades 8-12 for their outstanding service activities within their community and parish. Each winner will receive a $500 award. This year, applicants were asked to share how the pandemic strengthened their faith.
Face Forward received a number of outstanding entries, and identified 12 finalists from throughout the Diocese of Columbus before selecting Thomas and Amelia as the winners of the $500 awards.
In the 10th grade at St. Charles Preparatory School and a parishioner of St. Brigid of Kildare, Thomas Matthews says that what was supposed to be the temporary pause of in-person schooling in Spring 2020 seemed like a welcome reprieve to the challenges of high school life. However, the isolation of the pandemic caused him to question, “where my life was going, and what little purpose I felt I had was not worth living.”
It was when he stepped away from the screens and picked up his Dad’s bike that he began “to step back from it all and look at everything with a new perspective.” While Thomas notes that he would definitely go back in time to stop the pandemic if he could to prevent the suffering of others, “2020 was the start for me, and I use my newfound maturity to fulfill my purpose of joining God in Heaven, and to also help those around me, who all share the same journey.”
Amelia Steele says, “I called myself a Catholic-Christian but I never walked by faith.” A 9th grader at Worthington Kilbourne High School and a parishioner of St. Peter Roman Catholic Church, Amelia says that all changed in June 2020. As she scrolled through social media at 3 AM, “suddenly, my entire social media feed had turned into Christian preachers. I chose to listen to them all.” Amelia says that from that point on it became extremely important to her to change her relationship with God.
She credits this relationship with God with helping her to cope with the death of her Grandma in the midst of the pandemic. As she prayed over her Grandma before her death, Amelia says, “I reached out to God and asked Him to help me. He did. ….I felt so close to God. I felt Him holding me the whole time.”
While the pandemic has certainly impacted everyone, and some tragically, the many applicants for the Service Awards showed us that there were still some silver linings. Amelia may have said it best, noting, “COVID-19 has taken the world by a landslide but during that time it took my old life with it. In Christ I am made new. I am His child. I am redeemed.”
Please join us in extending our congratulations to these two extraordinary young Catholics, along with the other finalists and entrants who truly represent what it means to be an Inspired Young Catholic.