Montini Catholic High School in Lombard is proud to introduce a unique, new faith-based ministry made up of student leaders. The Lasallian school's Peer Ministry Team's mission is to inspire and motivate by example and to encourage students to engage in faith-based activities at the school and in their communities. "We want to increase opportunities for students to grow in their faith," explained Theology teacher and Peer Ministry advisor, Ms. Katie Wall. "We think that providing opportunities lead by the students, themselves, will make them more meaningful and desirable."
Montini's Peer Ministry Team is made up of seniors who were first required to go through a rigorous application process before being selected for membership. Applicants were interviewed and asked to discuss their qualities and strengths and how they could be used to further the group's mission. "In our interviews, they made sure we understood how big of a commitment this truly is," said member Kiana Calkins.
"The club requires energy, creativeness, positivity, motivation and a faith-filled spirit," said member, Isabella Reilley. "I knew that joining would make a great impact on me and I hope I can make an impact on others." Fellow leader, Renee Swider agrees. "I hope to accomplish a greater faith life and a closer community at Montini," she said. "I want to help others grow in their relationship with God while becoming closer to each other."
"As a group, we come up with ideas for the whole school in general, this can include retreats and meetings, or basically any way for us to connect the classes spiritually," said member Lia Szilagyi. "Our ultimate goal is to make Montini the best environment it can possibly be with our faith life, and how we treat each other. It really is a huge responsibility having this type of leadership role, but I am very grateful to be a part of it, especially my senior year."
"Our main goal when forming our Peer Ministry Team was to help guide the faith life of our students here at Montini," said Ms. Wall. "Leaders will participate in our school Masses, speak at our freshman and sophomore retreats and lead small group discussions at these retreats, as well," Ms. Wall and her students have also formed different committees within the ministry (Prayer, Service, and General Ministry) with the goal of introducing additional faith-based opportunities to Montini students.
Peer Ministers are required to be responsible leaders each day in their classrooms. "Being selected as a member of this group requires a big commitment," added Ms. Wall. "We are very honored to have these dedicated leaders in our midst!" It is Ms. Wall's goal to have the group's presence and influence grow at the school. "We want membership to become a highly sought after position for our young adults!"
Member, Nicholas Alandy, feels like it was his 'calling' to join the Peer Ministry. He is also very enthusiastic about the tasks that lie ahead for his group. "It is our first year and I just hope to set a standard that future teams could look up to," he said.
"No one should ever feel like they do not have a place here at Montini," added Lia. "We want to create an environment where everyone can talk to each other without judgment. We want everyone to strive to be accepting, loving, and forgiving."
"I hope to help make our school closer and more faith-filled as a whole," added Isabella (Reilley). "I hope that more people will be inspired to get involved, and to make a difference in others' lives!" Miss Reilley, and all Peer Ministry members are very active in their faith at Montini. "I am inspired to to this type of work by my dad's close friend, who is an evangelist," she said. "He travels all around the world and preaches to millions of people, being an inspiration and helping others find their faith. He is an amazing person who shines God's light wherever he goes."
"My grandmother, Mimi, inspires me to do service in my community," said Renee (Swider). "She is a devout Catholic who volunteers at a thrift store that provides jobs for disabled adults and she is an extraordinary minister at a hospital. She is such a kind, giving, and faithful person and I hope to follow in her footsteps."
Lia is influenced by witnessing the good works of others. "There are numerous times where people do things that inspire me to do the same. This can be as simple as someone asking someone else to eat lunch them, or other simple gestures. For me, it is the little things that make me believe that there is always good in the world, even when it may not seem like it - that's why I wanted to be a part of the Peer Ministry Team."
"Personally my religious life was not strong at all when I first came to Montini," said Kiana (Calkins). "Throughout my years here it has grown and I want to show kids that you don't need to be born in a religious household to be religious. You can start at any point in your life. I think being a voice for other kids is really what makes me love doing this!"
"My overall experience at Montini has inspired me to be a part of this team," said Olivia Herrmann. "My teachers have encouraged me to take on various leadership roles, which have allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone. This school has become my family, and faith is an aspect just as important. I whole-heartedly believe that we will be able to make a difference in relation to this faith community."
2018 -2019 Peer Ministers
Nico Alandy, Lombard
Julia Briggs, Naperville
Patrick Burke, LaGrange
Kiana Calkins, Wheaton
Mia Gramann, Burr Ridge
Olivia Herrmann, Glen Ellyn
Ellie Krick, Downers Grove
Justin Lazowski, Lemont
Grania O'Flaherty, Downers Grove
Bella Reilley, Lombard
Kelan Scott, Downers Grove
Renee Swider Downers Grove
Lia Szilagyi, Westchester
Marissa Vandeveer, Downers Grove