Graduating seniors Allee Hayes and Jonathan Semmler were humbled to receive the Diocese of Little Rock’s St. Timothy Award for leading by example in their faith.
Each year, seniors can be nominated to receive the statewide youth award. Based on 1 Timothy 4:12 (“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity”) the diocese awards those who activity seek to lead evangelistically and are always willing to help those around them grow in their faith. They were given the award at the state’s Catholic Youth Ministry Convention May 6-8.
Hayes, daughter of Bobby and Jennifer Hayes, and one of six children, has been active with youth at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Booneville since sixth grade, working with kids at her local elementary school during her senior year. She worked as a lifeguard and was active in school, participating in her school’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” and cheerleading.
Out of all her activities, Hayes said being involved in Catholic Youth Ministry was the most meaningful. As the only Catholic girl in her school, she said she loved spending time with her youth group and in religious education classes.
“It really encouraged my faith to be surrounded by others who shared the same beliefs as me,” she said.
Hayes and her family pray the Hail Mary together often, making it the prayer that she turns to the most as she continues on her spiritual journey with Christ, she said
“It is probably my most special prayer,” Hayes said. “I love to pray to our mother, Mary, and I feel like I have a special connection to her.”
Hayes will be attending the University of Central Arkansas in Conway this fall and is considering majoring in pre-medicine.
“I’m very excited for this next chapter of my life. I’m praying every day for God’s call,” she said. “I’m not sure yet what I want to do, but I know that I will continue with my faith for the rest of my life.”
Semmler, son of Michael and Susan Semmler and older brother to Jacob, attends Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Hot Springs Village and has been active with the diocese’s Youth Advisory Council and Search team and playing baseball for the Lions.
Semmler said his favorite Scripture is the end of Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus appears to the disciples and they still have their doubts.
“It’s crazy that they still have their doubts when Jesus has just appeared to them, because you would think they would be stronger. But Jesus still tells them to go make disciples of the entire world,” Semmler said. “It shows that you don’t have to be a perfect person to be a disciple.”
He said he has experienced similar struggles in his own faith.
“I’ve had a lot of doubts in my faith, and sometimes that makes me feel unworthy to minister to other people, but it shows me that as long as I believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter if I feel unworthy or not,” he said.
Semmler will be attending the University of Nebraska in Lincoln this fall and plans to follow in his parents’ footsteps and pursue a degree in biology with the intent of doing pre-optometry. In college he plans to stay invested in his faith.
“I’m going to be a part of Psi Kappa Theta, which is a Catholic fraternity,” he said. “I plan on staying involved in the Newman center and going to daily Mass as much as I can.”
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