The Vatican II Awards were established in 1991 to honor men, women and young adults who exemplify the Catholic Church’s vision set forth in the Second Vatican Council. These individuals have been selected by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki to be recognized for their service to the Body of Christ in southeastern Wisconsin. While an awards ceremony is typically held annually in October, this year’s festivities are postponed until such a time as it is safe to gather such a large group.
John Paul II Youth Award — Quinn David Thompson
Over years of working with students at his parish Vacation Bible School and as an after-school tutor, Quinn Thompson has learned the lesson that all teachers come to understand sooner or later.
“We take in many lessons from our time teaching others and we learn a lot more from our students than our students learn from us,” said Thompson, a parishioner at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Milwaukee.
It is within the context of St. Martin de Porres that Thompson has done much of his extensive service work, beginning as an altar server in his childhood and continuing through his involvement with St. Martin’s annual Vacation Bible School program, where he assists with teaching, planning and anything that needs to be done.
The VBS program was so important to him, he said, because he saw the value in “reaching out to children within our local area; so we can bring them in and provide them sustenance, and teach them guiding principles that I think would be integral to their life.”
Tutoring has also been an important part of his service life — in high school, he spent three years volunteering in the after-school program at Carver Academy of Math and Science, tutoring students in math and English, as well as monitoring them in the computer lab.
“What really guides and drives me is the ability to see the progress of the people I work with,” he said.
In both his service work and faith life, Thompson said he is inspired by his mother, Judith Collier-Thompson. “She’s able to uphold her values in the face of many challenges that came about,” he said. “She’s always been a bastion of perseverance in her Catholic faith.”
A 2020 graduate of University School of Milwaukee, Thompson is a freshman at the University of Chicago. “There are a lot of great opportunities in this area focused on ideas I would like to pursue, not only in the context of my major but in terms of community service and potential outreach programs that could be beneficial, not only for others, but for myself, to get a better sense of what I really want to do as a passion in my life,” he said.
Though he has not declared his major yet, Thompson has set his sights on studying computer science with a specialization in statistics. It’s a field to which he is drawn, he said, because of the opportunity to work for justice.
“I want to focus my major in data analysis, to better communities not only around Chicago but even within my home city of Milwaukee,” he said. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done in service of people underrepresented in certain computer and technological aspects. There is misrepresentation of data and a lack of understanding for certain trends that exist within communities. I want to work within my field to ensure that the work other people will do in the context of service is not limited because of how data is aggregated in a certain way.”