The 2018 Christian Service Awards recipients pose outside of St. Bernadette Parish in Scottsdale. Its adjoining school, St. John XXIII, had # recipients this year. (photo courtesy of Catholic Community Foundation)

SCOTTSDALE — Isabel Love and Emil Treesa Boby have been friends for much of their childhood years, which have included attending class together at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School. They plan to go to different high schools — Isabel to St. Mary’s High School and Emil Treesa to Xavier College Preparatory. Before they finish their elementary school years, the pair — along with 45 other Catholic eighth-graders — shared an evening in the spotlight as they were honored with Christian Service Awards from the Catholic Community Foundation.

The honors, the fruit of at least two years of work serving their schools, communities and parishes, provide each student with either an $8,000 or $12,000 scholarship to one of six Catholic high schools in Arizona: Bourgade, Brophy College Preparatory, Notre Dame College Preparatory, Seton Catholic Preparatory, St. Mary’s and Xavier. Students bound for St. John Paul II High School scheduled to open in August opening will also be eligible. The awards were handed out March 2, the day before CCF patroness St. Katharine Drexel’s feast day — by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and the students’ sponsors at St. John XXIII School in Scottsdale. St. Katharine Drexel established Catholic schools for underprivileged children throughout the Southwest.

Recipients are “the hands and feet of Christ. They do the Lord’s work every day, and that’s why they received the award. A lot of them have started their own charities. Some started a clothing drive for children in Mexico, they built houses across the border,” explained Pam Hammond, the foundation’s manager of programs and community outreach.

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Other recipients:

AnnunciationMichael Duke

Christ the KingBrenna Ramirez, Juan Cruz Ramirez-Ramos, Calley Spina

Mission Montessori AcademyDaisy Maldonado

Our Lady of Mount CarmelGabe Garcia

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, GlendaleNyssa Ruiz, Alondra Tarin

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, ScottsdaleGianni Lanese

St. JeromeOlivia Lomeli, Brianna Lopez

St. John XXIIIGriffin Fanger, Chase Gehringer, Ella Hoffman, Alicia Jasinski, Trevor Jasiski, Austin Kerr, Declan Quinn

St. Mary-BashaRachael Martinez

St. Thomas the ApostleTara Kelly, Anne Maschue, Mia McLauglin, George Rubelsky

St. Thomas AquinasBrittaney Nhan, Alexa Partida, Megan Scheller

Sierra VerdeSamuel Tamargo

“These are people who really impress us deeply because their life is inspired by God, but it’s also dedicated to serving others. Their faith is important to them; their sense of providing a gift to others because God has been a gift to them,” said Bishop Olmsted.

The list of projects and service is varied.

For example, 13-year-old Isabel spent dozens of hours performing tasks such as grocery shopping and filling kits for fundraising activities for young women who live at Maggie’s Place, a home for expectant mothers and young single mothers. She also helped students with homework at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Dream Center Kids Program, even teaching one girl cursive writing.

“At their school, they didn’t teach it,” she said, adding that the experience “let me know how important my Catholic education is — that I would be able to learn things that other kids didn’t have the opportunity to learn.”

CCF requires more than 100 service hours to be considered for a scholarship. Michael A. Ferrara logged 368 hours over two years, taking part largely in food drives and projects at the James Walton Home, a transitional residence in Phoenix for homeless veterans.

“Veterans are our heroes. We should be thanking them. But they were still out there, working with us. That was incredible.”

After graduating St. John XXIII School, Michael plans to attend Brophy in the fall.

Emil Treesa helped her father serve Communion and carried out exercises, activities and games for residents at the Stratford Assisted Living facility in Phoenix. The 14-year-old assisted her father with charity work, which included purchasing milk for children in Kenya and building two homes in India.

“We’ve always encouraged as often as possible to give back to the community and to volunteer, ever since she was a small child,” said Isabel’s father, Jesús.

“As a parent, you can only plant the seed. What I hope is they really get a sense of being part of their community — whether it is their neighborhood, their city or the world — and give back and help anyone they can. That’s motivated by a strong Catholic faith and following in Jesus’ steps.”

“We encourage the kids in sixth grade to start their service because the service counts the two years before they apply for the award: sixth grade and seventh grade,” Hammond explained.

“It is service to parish, school and community. They can be altar servers, help their teacher clean the classrooms, tutor after school, be a crossing guard. The community service can be any of a number of things,” she added.

The 47 awards distributed this year are up from 34 last year due to some endowment funds that were received, she said.

Sr. Mary Jordan Hoover, OP, founding principal of the forthcoming St. John Paul II High School in Avondale, joins her potential future students after the Christian Service Awards presentation at St. John XXIII School in Scottsdale March 2. The award recipients, eighth-graders Samuel Tamargo from Sierra Verde School in Glendale and Brittney Nhan and Alexa Partida from St. Thomas Aquinas School in Avondale, all hope to be part of the new high school’s first class.
(Courtesy of Catholic Community Foundation)

“What we see here is students contributing their gifts to others and by contributing they are happy,” said Dominican Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, founding principal of the forthcoming St. John Paul II High School in Avondale, who emceed the event with diocesan Vicar of Evangelization Fr. John Parks. “We live in a world that often tells them to consume to be happy. But we are seeing students who are happy because they have contributed. It’s beautiful.”

From the CCF website:

Recipients of the Christian Service Award display a love and understanding of their Catholic faith and articulate a commitment, not only to performing acts of service, but to living a service-focused life.

The Christian Service Awards are $8,000-$12,000 scholarships given to students who:

  • Are practicing Catholics registered within the Diocese of Phoenix;
  • Exemplify Christ-centered behavior through volunteer service to parish, school and community;
  • Plan to attend a Catholic high school within the Diocese of Phoenix;
  • Are in eighth grade at the time of application; and
  • Have volunteered 100+ hours to parish, school and community between Aug. 15 of sixth grade year and Aug. 15 of eighth grade year.
Important Dates

Aug. 15, 2018 — Christian Service Awards ONLINE applications available

Aug. 28, 2018 — Informational Workshop

Oct. 15, 2018 — Deadline for applications

Dec. 2, 2018 — Applicant interviews

Schools that benefit:

Bourgade, Brophy College Preparatory, Notre Dame Preparatory, St. John Paul II, St. Mary’s, Seton Catholic Preparatory, Xavier College Preparatory