Graduates reflect on Catholic high school experience


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

The Diocese of Davenport’s five Catholic high schools celebrated the graduation last month of 212 students. The Catholic Messenger asked each school to select one student to reflect on how their Catholic faith shaped their high school experience. We share the responses provided by four of the schools.

Notre Dame-Burlington


Ava Parkins, daughter of Brian and Jenna Parkins of Immaculate Conception Parish-Monmouth, Illinois. “My Catholic faith has played a significant role in my high school experience,” Ava said. “Throughout the past four years, I have learned the importance of living God’s plan no matter your own will. Because of COVID, I felt I was missing out on the high school experience and opportunities for my future. After a semester of prayer, God was calling me to take action. I decided to enroll at Notre Dame High School my second semester of sophomore year. I placed my life in God’s hands as I anxiously left behind my friends, teammates, teachers and organizations that I had grown to love. Without going to Mass weekly, altar serving, attending youth group and daily prayer, I would not have been able to take this leap of faith. Having God as my foundation has led me to greater opportunity and experiences than I could have ever imagined. Although life is ever changing, the Lord always remains. I am beyond grateful to have my Catholic faith to guide me not only through high school but for the rest of my life.”


Prince of Peace-Clinton


Shannon Kenneavy, daughter of Kevin and Stacie Kenneavy of Prince of Peace Parish-Clinton. “All my life I have had Catholic values instilled in me that have helped to shape my experiences. Throughout high school, I have been grateful for my Catholic faith. My faith gave me something to believe in and a set of values to honor and defend. My Catholic faith gave me a sense of belonging in the Church. No matter what, I knew that I had a support system behind me in the Church and a group of Christ-like individuals who would guide me when I was lost. Without my Catholic faith, high school could have been a very different experience for me altogether. My Catholic faith helped me to stand firm in my beliefs and to show others why I believed. I am grateful I got to go to a school where I could regularly practice my Catholic faith by attending Mass, praying the rosary, getting a ‘faith friend’ and so much more.”



Ella DiIulio, daughter of Tom and Brooke DiIulio of St. Paul the Apostle Parish-Davenport. “Throughout my years at Assumption High School, my faith life and personal relationship with God have grown significantly. Assumption offers many opportunities to make our faith a part of our daily lives, through Mass in the chapel and adoration on Tuesdays, all-school Masses, chaplet of divine mercy on Fridays or even theology classes. It is extremely important to not take the opportunities that are handed to us for granted. Taking advantage of these opportunities led me to get involved in faith-based activities outside of school, where I grew deeper in my personal relationship with God and also made friendships that are built on the foundation of Christ and that will last a lifetime. I am beyond grateful for all of the teachers who have encouraged me to live a life of faith and taught me so much about what we believe as Catholics and also why we believe what we do. Throughout high school, my faith has had great influence in so many areas… the way I spend my time, who I spend my time with, and the decisions I make. All of the things that my faith has influenced ultimately shape me into the person I am today and who I will continue to grow into.”

Holy Trinity-Fort Madison


Rachel Menke, daughter of Loren and RaeAnn Menke of West Point and members of St. James the Less Parish-Saint Paul. “My Catholic faith has shaped my high school experience in many ways. Most importantly, it provides me with a supportive and loving community to be a part of. Every Sunday I am able to see and talk to my fellow parish members. It feels good to be surrounded by so many wonderful people. My Catholic faith has also encouraged me to become involved in activities I never thought I could do. For example, leading the children in song and dance at the St. James Vacation Bible School. I am a bit uncomfortable with public speaking but I went out of my comfort zone and loved being able to see the smiles on all the kids’ faces every day. By attending Holy Trinity, I get the opportunity to practice my faith by attending Mass, confession and reciting the rosary during school. As a Catholic, I feel fortunate to have religious education as part of my curriculum. Practicing my faith in high school allowed me to get a better understanding of life and made me feel like I had a purpose. Overall, my faith has shaped me in many ways throughout my high school career and I feel very fortunate to be a Catholic.”

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