By Rachel Wilmans
On September 9th, Bishop Loverde came to Paul VI for what may be his last back-to-school mass. The Bishop turned seventy-five two weeks ago and will most likely be retiring before the next school year, as is tradition for bishops his age. In his homily, he focused on mercy and encouraged students to be open and forgiving of one another. Of course, before he finished mass, Bishop Loverde granted PVI students the highly coveted day off at some point later in the year, with Principal Colwell’s approval.
The Bishop’s visit was not the only exciting development at Mass. The Catholic Business Network of Northern Virginia came to Paul VI to present the “Yes! Award” to PVI senior Alex Aguilera ’16. The award is given annually to a senior student who dedicates his or herself to helping the community and answering God’s call to serve.
“I was, and still am, very surprised and honored that I got the award,” Aguilera said, remembering that he did not know he was going to receive the award until the Catholic Business Network representatives began to describe his life and service. After his name was announced, Alex came to the front of the gym to receive a certificate, where he was joined by his father Ricardo and his brother Nick Aguilera ‘17.
Alex was specially acknowledged for a number of service projects at Paul VI, from Student Ambassadors and Peer Mentoring, to the St. Joseph’s society; a group of young men who have done everything from serve meals to the homeless to helping build the new spiritual grotto here at school. But for Alex, giving back at Paul VI was not enough. He also harnesses his athletic abilities to fund cancer research, participating in the Relay for Life (an overnight walk-a-thon) and Swim Across America.
Though this list of service is impressive, none of these projects can even compare to the project that is closest to Alex’s heart: INOVA’s Life with Cancer program. Alex’s mother passed away from cancer a few years ago, and she got a lot of support during treatment from Life with Cancer. Alex, with the help of his brother Nick, and Coordinator of Campus Ministry Joyce Krolicki, has focused his efforts on fundraising and has helped to raise enough money to bring funds up into the astounding total of quadruple digits.
“My mom showed incredible strength when she was fighting cancer, and one thing she taught my brother and me was to be thankful for what we have, because not everyone is so lucky,” said Aguilera.
Alex said service work is not something that he does to fulfill a requirement for school. It’s a personal way to show appreciation for a community that gave his family so much support when they needed it and provide them with the ability to help others.
“Personal satisfaction that comes along with helping someone through community service can go a long way, and it really is something to be passed on,” Aguilera said, adding that he encourages everyone to take something that holds a special place in their heart and find a way to give back. This service could be anything from working at a soup kitchen, to mission work, to starting your own volunteer organization. Even the smallest amount of help can change lives, he said.
The Yes! Award is a fantastic achievement, and Alex is honored to have received it and would like to thank everyone who helped support him and made it possible. The Catholic Business Network will be making a video about his life and service, and Alex will attend an award reception in November with the Bishop.
Disclaimer: Alex Aguilera is a Staff Editor for Panther Press.