ROGERS — There are those that wait for things to happen and those that make things happen.
Fortunately for their home parishes and the diocese, two young adults recently honored by the Diocese of Little Rock fall into the second camp. Both have proved themselves to be not only inspired as individuals but inspiring to those around them.
On May 13 at the Catholic Youth Ministry Convention in Little Rock, seniors Johanna Berryman and Roman Franklin were awarded the St. Timothy Award, the most prestigious youth award given in the diocese.
Each year the diocese awards two recently graduated high school seniors for being leaders in their faith. Based on 1 Timothy 4:12, the award honors youth who act as positive examples to their peers, exhibit Catholic morals, illustrate Gospel values in their service to others and demonstrate exemplary leadership in their Catholic community.
Berryman, a graduate of Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, has been involved in various youth group activities at St. Joseph in Fayetteville and the diocese during high school. But she credits attending Catholic Heart Work camp mission trips and an Alive in You mission camp coordinated by youth director, Jim Weir, with helping her grow her faith.
“I didn’t really know the diocese existed until junior year when I was inducted into the Youth Advisory Council,” Berryman admitted. But during her second term in YAC she was elected co-chair and became a member of Search Team #138. Berryman also traveled to see the pope and attended the National Catholic Youth Conference.
Back in her home parish, Berryman, daughter of Jay and Sarah Berryman, stayed involved by giving witness talks at two confirmation retreats at St. Joseph, lectoring for Mass and by picking up an adoration hour every Thursday morning at 6 a.m. She also helped start a Bible study for juniors and seniors and built a rosary garden and fountain in the courtyard of her church to help bring awareness to suicide prevention. In addition to church activities, Berryman played varsity tennis throughout her four years of high school, was a member of National Honor Society, the Sociology Club and the Blood Drive team and started her own pie business.
“With the Bible study, I hoped to get more juniors and seniors involved in our faith,” Berryman said. “I am happy to say that we now have a super awesome youth minister, Jim Weir, who makes learning about the Lord fun and exciting. He runs a summer camp with his wife every year and has brought in a whole new wave of kids to the youth group. He’s awesome.”
Franklin, according to his youth director, Paula Price, also embodies the qualities of St. Timothy. “Roman is very selfless,” said Price. “In all of my readings of St. Timothy, I felt Roman was so much like him.”
His youth director for 10 years, Price said she has seen Franklin grow as a young man since he began in the youth programs at St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Jacksonville.
“He converts people quietly,” she said. “It is what people see in his quiet example that brings them to the Church. He reminds me of Jesus.”
A graduate of Cabot High School, Franklin also credits Search with strengthening his faith during high school. Besides being involved with his youth group, he has also volunteered for Arkansas Rice Depot (now called Arkansas Foodbank), promoted pro-life work and attended a Stuebenville conference.
Both award recipients also attribute family with inspiring them on their faith journeys.
“It’s really hard to inspire someone, it truly is,” Franklin said. “I can only say that there are a lot of difficult and daunting things in life, but there will always be a spark of God’s love somewhere in there. You just got to dive headfirst and search around for it.”
“There are so many more opportunities available for you by staying faithful,” she said. “Not only do you get to experience that Jesus high, but you also get to grow with your peers and make lifelong true friendships.”
Berryman plans to attend St. Louis University in the fall as a pre-admission to its occupational therapy program. Franklin is looking at attending Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the names of Johanna Berryman's parents. This article has been updated.
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