Moira Clausen and Cy Rentmeester, who graduated from St. Jude the Apostle Parish School in Wauwatosa earlier this month, were each awarded $2,000 toward their high school tuition after being selected as this year’s winners of the Women of St. Jude Christian Award.
The Women of St. Jude Christian Award has recognized faithfulness and volunteerism in eighth-graders at the parish of St. Jude for more than 50 years. This year’s recipients not only displayed those attributes, said representatives of the award committee, but they did so in the midst of a global pandemic that interrupted the traditional models of service outreach.
Clausen is headed to Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in the fall, while Rentmeester will be a freshman at Marquette University High School. Students are still eligible to apply for the award even if they are not planning to attend a Catholic high school, said Patti Gilgaren, chairperson of the Women of St. Jude Christian Award Committee.
“They can also have it be used towards some sort of Christian experience, like a camp or service project, or they can donate it to a Catholic charity of their choice,” said Gilgaren. “Some have split the money up.”
Applicants must submit a detailed profile that includes information on past and current volunteer work and extracurricular activities, as well as two letters of recommendation. They also had to respond to three essay questions about what it means to be an exceptional Christian, what person or experience during their time at St. Jude has had the greatest impact on their character or faith, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their life and faith.
Rentmeester, who plays club volleyball for the Milwaukee Volleyball Club and recently completed his Eagle Scout project at Catholic Charities Adult Day Center in Milwaukee, said that in his essay responses, he addressed the strong connection he has to his faith. “Having stronger faith in God helped me deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
In Clausen’s essay responses, she said she touched on the importance of leadership and her affinity for service. “I enjoy it — it’s just important to me. Faith is a huge part of my life, along with church and family,” she said. Her own service work has included volunteering at Irish Fest, supporting fundraisers for diabetes research (a cause close to her heart, as her cousin has Type 1 diabetes) and assisting at parish activities.
Gilgaren said that, in reading this year’s essay responses, “it was interesting in the answers that we got, how they seemed to be closer with their families and really appreciated their families a lot more because of the distancing that had to be done with their friends.”
The Women of St. Jude is open to all adult women at St. Jude Parish and works to promote unity and fellowship at the church. In addition to helping staff the parish thrift shop, they host a popular Father/Daughter Dance every February and a Cookie Walk each Advent to benefit the school.