Drive for Catholic education nurtures faith and develops pro-life nurse, missionary discipleship

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By Joyce Coronel, Together Let Us Go Forth Magazine

“I think God put it in me to be really drawn to Catholicism at a young age,” Adriana Osorio said with quiet conviction as she sat in the molded plastic seats of a Mesa fast food restaurant.

“I just found out that this was right and that the Catholic faith was my home.

The soft-spoken, waist-length red-haired little nurse has been following Christ ever since. It all started in Japan, where his father, a surgeon, served in the US Air Force. Osorio was baptized abroad and, after a period in Texas, the family ends up settling in Mesa, where Osorio attended Christ King’s Catholic School.

The East Valley nurse, who grew up the eldest of five children, is of mixed Hispanic heritage. Her father is Peruvian, while her mother is Mexican and Portuguese.

“My family cooked Peruvian food and went to Peruvian restaurants. My dad has a band called Latin guitarsso we grew up around that music,” Osorio said, adding that she learned the traditional Peruvian dance from her father.

“We would dance Huayno with my grandfather,” Osorio said.

Recalling his primary school years at Christ the King, Osorio remembers praying before class and, in particular, reciting the rosary. It would be useful later. She was the only one of her Christ the King classmates to attend St. Mary’s High School in downtown Phoenix, about 40 minutes from her home in Mesa. She was drawn, she says, to a sense of a tight-knit community of deep Catholic faith.

Right away, Osorio became involved with Youth for Life, a pro-life student organization at St. Mary’s that, several years after her graduation, still exists. The club holds drives for diapers and baby clothes for women in crisis, and its members pray outside a Phoenix abortion clinic. St. Mary’s juniors and seniors lead Youth for Life.

“You see upper-class students praying the rosary and going to abortion clinics to pray and have fun on the car rides,” Osorio said, adding that she was inspired by those older students that she admired.

In her second year, Osorio’s mother gave birth to the family’s fourth child after a high-risk pregnancy. Further pregnancy was also high risk, and Osorio’s father didn’t want his wife to make the 40-minute commute twice a day with not only a baby in a baby seat, but also in the middle of a pregnancy. hard. It was just too much, so Osorio switched to Red Mountain High School, a public school near the family home.

The flip-flop was a huge change. Not only was she in a much larger school, but Catholic faith and values ​​were sorely absent. Osorio founded a pro-life group at Red Mountain — and would later go on to found one at his college — but it wasn’t the same. At St. Mary’s, from theology classes to campus ministries to daily mass in the chapel and lunchtime confession, the emphasis is on making Christian disciples.

“That’s where I found the most wisdom and peace and answers for my life, especially being a teenager and having all these questions about growing up and relationships,” Osorio said. “And that’s where I found the most peaceful resolutions and answers to the questions I had about the things that were happening around me.”

Osorio asked her father if she could return to St. Mary’s High School for her senior year, as she would be able to drive herself. Without hesitation, the answer was an unequivocal yes.

The long drive was a time for prayer, the kind she remembered from Christ the King and her freshman and sophomore years at St. Mary’s.

“The rosary was my favorite thing if I was feeling anxious because of the school drama or whatever,” Osorio said with a chuckle. “My 40-minute drive back, I would spend half of it praying the Rosary. It was always a feeling of comfort for me, this repetition and the fact of beginning the prayer with “I believe in God”.

“It puts everything into perspective. Then it’s like, OK, nothing matters.

“We place Jesus Christ at the center of the educational process,” states the St. Mary’s High School website. It is a motto that the President-Rector, Father Robert Bolding, supports, emphasizing that students are empowered to become Christian disciples.

Keeping the Faith in College

After graduating from St. Mary’s in 2017, Osorio attended the University of Arizona, where she studied nursing. While many students separated from their Catholic faith during these years, Osorio did not.

Quietly, humbly, she explained how it happened.

“My priority was not to make friends. My priority was not accepted. I knew my priority was to keep my faith and grow as a person in college and grow in what I was going to do for the future.

And she’s not a nerd or a hell of a roller either. Instead, Osorio projects an aura of serenity mixed with quiet faith, the kind that is expressed in sweet declarations and sweet smiles.

Sometimes it was hard to stay true to her faith, Osorio said, but she made friends at the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center near the U of A campus. She’s actually a friend of St. Mary’s High School which helped her stay firmly rooted in her Catholic faith.

Having a friend who knows you, who knows your values, and who can remind you of your goals and ideals and support you in achieving them is key, Osorio said.

“Sometimes you can lose sight of that.”

The main thing that helped him was to have a constant prayer life.

“That’s how I kept my faith, it was having my personal relationship with Jesus, and always coming back to him gave me a sense of peace and comfort,” Osorio said.

This is a point that Tanya Bartlett, director of St. Mary’s, underlined.

“Our goal at St. Mary’s is to introduce students to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their relationship with Him and in their faith in the Catholic Church,” Bartlett said. “Knowing their identity and purpose in life allows them to go out and live their faith in the world of work, education – wherever they go – it’s something they carry with them that has a impact not only on them and their families, but also on the people they work with and serve.

Domonic Salce, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Phoenix, said Catholic schools help students develop a personal relationship with Christ through prayer, service and study. This three-pronged approach helps the young keep their faith once they leave the nest.

“We want to try to develop that personal relationship with Jesus from the very beginning, from kindergarten and elementary school all the way through high school,” Salce said.

“We are not immune to people thinking differently after leaving high school,” Salce said of Catholic schools, “but it is important that we plant the seed that will then sprout in their hearts and grow. in their souls to help them and to strengthen them as they enter university life.

In the case of Osorio, these little seeds of faith were nurtured and brought to maturity in Catholic schools. After graduating from nursing last December, Osorio began working as a postpartum nurse at Mercy Gilbert Dignity Health, where she feels comfortable talking about her faith. Like many new nursing school graduates, she works night shifts and is learning to find her calling. Osorio turns to God in prayer and often stops by the chapel when his shift at the hospital ends.

“I have to go back to my rock, my center throughout the day,” Osorio said. Her desire to work in women’s health began during her years at St. Mary’s at the Youth for Life club. Helping new moms recover from childbirth and caring for their newborns is exactly what Osorio wants to be.

“I love him so much,” she said, her brown eyes dancing. “The lesson that stuck with me in Catholic school is to be what God wants me to be, not just what seems to be successful in the world.”

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