Local student wins highest award for Catholic youth

Local student wins highest award for Catholic youth

SMITHFIELD – Greenville resident Angelica McAfee says the reason she won the St. Timothy Award is because she is blessed.

McAfee, 17, a senior at Bay View Academy, said the award is the “highest achievement” a student can receive from the Providence Diocese. Her school principal and pastor, Rev. Ryan Simas of the St. Philip Catholic Parish in Greenville, nominated her.

“I’m very blessed, I have the best parish,” she said. “It’s very surreal to win the award. I’m blessed to have my faith to support my endeavors.”

The St. Timothy Award is given to Catholic youth who, according to her award notification letter from Louise Dussault, director of Catholic youth ministry for the Diocese of Providence, “lives as a disciple of Christ, setting a positive example for other youth, witnesses to their faith by exhibiting Catholic morals and integrity, demonstrates Gospel values through service to others, and exhibits Christian leadership in parish, school, and/or community settings.”

Sister Elizabeth Hathaway, Upper School Campus minister, spoke on behalf of the school principal, saying what distinguishes McAfee is her faith, and fearlessness to give witness.

“Considering the challenges of the youth today, I admire anyone who says this is your belief system and your value system,” Hathaway said.

One word to sum up Angelica is grateful, Hathaway said, grateful for the work she does and of others at school.

“She uses the words blessed and grateful. She has a profound faith, maybe beyond measure,” Hathaway said.

McAfee said her faith was reinforced during a 2013 Steubenville East Youth Catholic Conference at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she experienced three days and two nights of prayer, praise and worship that changed her life.

“That started my journey in my faith,” she said. “Seeing Christ put my life into perspective. He saved me. It showed me a life of peace and happiness.”

Since the conference, Angelica explored ways to learn and grow in her faith, as well as spread the word by teaching others. She’s part of a youth leadership team at St. Philip’s, where she plans events and mentors students.

“I’m blessed to get onto that team and (be) given students to mentor,” she said. “I help them understand how to defend their faith, and guide them.”

Every day, Angelica sends out a group message to her students, reminding them of God’s will and presence. Her message of the day is that God is an arm’s length away, and to reach out when he’s needed.

“When the wind of our lives may be pushing you in every direction, just say, God, I love you,” she said.

Next for Angelica, she said she plans on studying engineering in college, but she has not decided where. She said wherever she goes, she has her faith, so “why be stressed.”

“I want to use the morals I have with life decisions. Sometimes the chaos of the world is more real to us – more real than a savior,” she said.

Angelica will receive her award at a ceremony on March 11 at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence with several other students across the state.