“I struggled in high school maintaining any relationship with God, but I was still a girl who valued morality because of what my parents had instilled in me,” LaLoggia said.

Friends from her parish youth group reintroduced LaLoggia to God and she went on the parish youth retreat her senior year of high school which proved to be important to her faith life.

Name: Emily LaLoggia

Age: 21

Parish: Holy Family, Rockford, Ill.; attends Gesu Church, Milwaukee, while at school.

School and/or occupation Marquette University senior, majoring in theology with a minor in family studies.

What’s on your iPod? Jesus Culture, Mike Mangione, Gregorian Chant, Zumba fitness songs, Danielle Rose.

If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Well, at each Mass, I dine with all of heaven and that’s with whom my heart longs to dine.

Who has made the biggest impact upon you? The youth from my home parish have made a huge impact on me, especially during my conversion years. Their powerful witness drew, and continues to draw me deeper into the heart of Jesus. Attending retreats and witnessing so many of these normal, fun teens adore our Lord and Most Blessed Sacrament.

What does your normal weekend look like?
My normal weekend always consists of spending time with friends – anything from walking on the shores of Lake Michigan to “karaoking” to visiting family to baking (well, watching friends bake and then eating their delicious creations) to jogging. Mass is always involved, and, of course, some homework here and there. Other work is involved, too, either tour guiding at Marquette, working at a local parish, or leading or going on a retreat.

Favorite Bible story Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42).

Scripture passage Psalm 45.

Prayer My favorite prayer may simply be the phrase, “Let it be done unto me!” I long to imitate Mary’s “fiat.” I also enjoy praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Favorite quote “Hold back nothing of yourself for yourself so that he who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally,” St. Francis of Assisi; or “Let me seek you in desiring you and desire you in seeking you, find you in loving you and love you in finding you,” St. Anselm.

What was your confirmation name? Marie-Rose after Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher. When I picked the name, I did not understand the importance of taking on a saint’s name. So, I picked her simply because of her name. But, as I grow in my understanding of the faith, I realize that she truly picked me! I have therefore been attempting to learn more about her.

What do you enjoy most about going to Mass? The opportunity to be united with Jesus in the Eucharist.  He is in me and I am in him.  As Fr. Stefano M. Manelli states in his book, “Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love,”: “It is not possible to have a union of love which is deeper and more total (than the eucharistic union).”  What more could I want?

Favorite pastime/hobby/activity I enjoy photography, traveling, doing Zumba, deer hunting with my dad, dancing, singing, spending time with my family and friends.

What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life? The most important thing I want to accomplish in life is God’s will for me on this earth, whatever it may be! I pray that every action I do may praise, reverence, and serve God and lead others and myself to ultimate happiness – eternal life in heaven.

How do you live your faith every day? PRAY! If I am to live out my faith each day, that is, to become more Christ-like, I must spend time with the one who is calling me on to live out my faith! I must converse with God and seek to enter into a personal relationship of love with him, that is, pray! Prayer is simply a loving conversation with God and it is in prayer wherein I learn how to live out his will for me each day.

“It was my senior year of high school when I realized the emptiness in my heart that could only be filled with God,” she said, but she wasn’t in the clear yet.

When she began at Marquette University in 2007, LaLoggia experienced an unfamiliar loneliness as she struggled to find a community she could join with similar interests.

“I wanted to transfer schools,” LaLoggia said. “I was upset with the Catholic community at Marquette for not providing what I wanted.”

After being accepted to another Catholic university and ready to transfer, LaLoggia received a call that there wasn’t room for her during the upcoming semester.

“I was upset and confused and did not want to remain at Marquette,” she said. “During this time, though, God transformed my heart!”

LaLoggia said God was calling her to prayer and into a personal relationship with him. “Once I began to form this relationship with him through learning about the life of Christ and about the church and praying with him, I began to see how he longs to lead me. And he did!” she said, explaining that she needed to stop watching others pray and start praying herself. “He kept me at Marquette and led me to a beautiful community of friends there who call me on in holiness.”

The faith community LaLoggia longed for is now to whom she turns when she’s dealing with difficult issues in her life –her family, friends and the community of saints. “I believe that it is important that I, especially when dealing with difficult issues, surround myself with people who desire my good and people who can intercede for me,” LaLoggia said. “Also, fellow believers are able to remind me of the hope of heaven and give me strength to persevere.”

College proved to be a blessing for LaLoggia’s faith life.

“Going to college allowed me to express myself spiritually, for I was away from my normal environment and away from people who knew my old self – a high school student who wasn’t all that interested in expressing her faith,” she said, explaining that she wanted a Catholic community of friends, a deeper prayer life and to express her faith more fully. College led her back to her childhood faith cultivated by her parents. “I began to participate in daily Mass and seek out adoration. The rosary was reintroduced into my life as well,” LaLoggia said. “These are all practices of my parents that I had been exposed to growing up.”

LaLoggia’s faith life has been inspired more yet since she became involved with the Totus Tuus program in 2008, a national Catholic summer camp for grade school and high school students.

Sean Grismer, 20, a junior seminarian at the St. John Vianney College Seminary/University of St. Thomas, met LaLoggia through Totus Tuus. The two are among the college students and seminarians that travel from parish to parish within a diocese to teach middle school and high school students about the Catholic faith.

Grismer remembers how easily he and LaLoggia became friends on his first day of training for Totus Tuus in the summer of 2009.

“The first day we met, the eight catechists for Totus Tuus were getting to know each other and it was Emily that was leading the conversation,” Grismer said in an e-mail interview with MyFaith. “None of the conversation was awkward (as it sometimes can be on the first days) because Emily was already expressing the love she had for us and for the program. It was clear though that this love did not come from her nor was it directed towards us, it was directed toward her love of Jesus Christ.”

In one word, Grismer described LaLoggia as “genuine.”

“Whatever the Lord asks of her, she does willingly and joyfully. It is the Lord that acts in her,” he said. “It is through this docility of heart that people come to love and appreciate her because they see she is completely genuine.”

While he’s known LaLoggia for only two years, Grismer said that her faith growth is “transparently clear,” citing her visit to Rome and her excitement about having a chapel in the house where she lived.

“…one thing that she consistently said to me was, ‘Jesus is living under the same roof! It is so amazing to know that anytime I go to him in the tabernacle, he is right there,’” Grismer said, adding that the same was true for LaLoggia during the camp this last summer. “During Totus Tuus, she also expressed how much of a comfort it was to go into the chapel/church for just a minute or so to be ‘re-energized’ by our Lord.”

LaLoggia’s involvement in Totus Tuus came at the right time.

“I was seeking an opportunity in which I would be challenged in my prayer life and grow in the knowledge of the church and in self-knowledge,” she said of the camp where she works in a team with another woman and two men and travels to different parishes to present week-long morning programs for children in grades one through sixth, and night programs for youth entering grades seven through 12.

The camp, which is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, involves learning and fun with games, skits, songs, recess, snacks and an end-of-the-week water fight, but it’s intense with long days, high expectations and sacrifice.

“Yet, never have I grown as much as I do while participating in Totus Tuus,” LaLoggia said, explaining that it has taught her how to serve when she didn’t want to, and love when she didn’t know how – just as the Totus Tuus training manual says it should.

LaLoggia’s great love for priests, friendship and support have taught Grismer to be “joyfully docile to the Holy Spirit” and everything that the Lord has for him, he said. “Her great love for Our Lord and Our Lady has been a marvelous source of inspiration for me as a seminarian. I cannot give the Father enough praise for the great witness he has placed in my life through this sister of mine in Christ.”

As she works toward a major in theology and minor in family studies, LaLoggia said prayer is largely how she lives out her faith each day; Grismer said it’s in the way she carries her crosses.

“Some she expresses to her friends and relatives, and some she allows the Lord to carry in the silence of her heart,” Grismer said. “No matter what the cross may be, she recognizes that the Lord has permitted it and (as stated before) she bears it willingly and joyfully. Throughout every moment of her day she is giving Our Lord her ‘Fiat.’”

Being Catholic and living out her Catholic faith is important to LaLoggia despite the hardships that the church has encountered because of the fullness of truth that it possesses. She fell away once, but LaLoggia said there’s much that keeps her here living out her faith each day.

“Each and every day we as Catholics have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ FULLY – His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity!” she said, explaining how nourishing and life-giving that is. “In what other faith can one participate in that? …This is where my heart belongs! In no other way would I ever be able to experience such happiness on earth.”