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I have lived in the same community since I was three years old and know every store, road, and area of Niles, Illinois like the back of my hand. I grew up with the same group of friends, which I am still friends with them today, and I have grown up with mentors in which I hold close to my heart, for shaping me into the young woman I am today. Niles, Illinois is a mid sized community with about 30,000 residents; I have become close with many residents due to countless activities and events. I am a young woman in which I always need to be doing something with my time, and the place in which I am perfectly content, gives me the ability to do so.
When I was four years old, I started at St. John Brebeuf School, a Catholic school, which is apart of St. John Brebeuf Parish. Growing up throughout the years there, I learned many new things such as: meeting loyal friends, finding a mentor, seeing all the hustle and bustle of the community, and of course the many activities and committees in which you are able to become more involved. Seventh grade is when I really became involved within my parish. I began by joining the Lifeteen choir, in which we sing at mass, playing hand bells at mass, the Youth Ministry program in which you talk about church itself and volunteer within the community, Altar Serving which consists of helping the Priest and deacon at mass, and the GLADD program, which helps mentally challenged children learn about God.
As the years went on, I found more activities and committees to become involved in, and now in addition to what I was apart of since seventh grade, I am now a Lector at mass, in which I read either the first or second reading, schedule the times in which altar servers serve, and also organize parties, To Teach Who Christ Is committee, where we teach the church about Christ, and where we raise money to fund for repairs to the parish, Picnic Planner, and 60th Anniversary Party Planner, we are having a big party to celebrate our 60th year as a parish.
By joining all of these activities and committees, I have met key people within the parish, learned more about the parish history and its community, and met my mentor. I met my mentor four years ago, when I began taking singing more seriously. This woman had been a respected parishioner of the parish for a lengthy time, sings as a cantor weekly, been involved with many activities, and is the wife of a key member of the parish, a deacon. This woman’s name is Jan Skaja, I admire her for her determination to every task she puts her mind too, her kind and generous nature, her attentive listening skills in which I can talk to her about anything, she teaches me to be myself, and confident regardless of what the situation is, and inspired me to be the vocalist I am today. Meeting Jan has shaped a big part of my life by following her life examples, and looking up to someone who also enjoys singing.
By participating in these multiple activities and committees, St. John Brebeuf has become like a second home and the parishioners have become like family to me, it has taught me leadership skills though the multiple activities, time management with balancing school work and my responsibilities at church, and maturity because most of the activities I am apart of require me to work with adults. This parish has been my everything, and I wouldn’t change a minute of my time here. My memories are now in a special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to experience the memories I create here in the future.