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(Editor’s note: Following is the sixth in a series featuring the winners of the 2009 Indianapolis Serra Club Vocations Essay Contest.)
When I was 6 years old, I started attending Christ the King School.
Now that I am in high school, I still attend Sunday Mass there sometimes.
As far back as I can remember, my parents never really discussed religion in our house. They divorced when I was still a baby so I never knew the importance of religion or faith.
But when I started first grade at Christ the King School, everything changed. Every-thing changed because of one man, Msgr. Francis Tuohy.
Msgr. Tuohy played a beneficial role in my development as a Catholic. He helped where my parents could not.
He was the first priest that I confessed to in the sacrament of reconciliation in second grade. He was also the first priest to give me my first Eucharist.
He always led our school Masses, and he was loyal to all of the events at the school.
He attended everything that he could and that set a great example. He encouraged me to talk to my Dad about coming back to church so that I could attend Mass every Sunday. He helped me to see that I would need God in my life as I grew older.
I didn’t really know God before starting school at Christ the King, but Msgr. Tuohy really helped show me the way. He knew me by name and, for me, he was the Christ-figure in my life.
In 2004, he retired because his health was declining. Sadly, Msgr. Tuohy passed away when I was in the seventh grade.
The ways in which my community joined together in remembrance and thanks for him really hit me. While at Christ the King, he headed the whole process to build its new parish community center and, after his death, this new building was named Tuohy Hall.
Throughout his time at Christ the King, he instilled in me a lot of values and beliefs that I still hold true today. Humbly, he gave his time every day to better the lives of the students and parishioners.
This was not his job; this was his way of life. He let me know that God will always be a major part of my life. I know not to stray away; God will lead me in the right direction.
Msgr. Tuohy made everyone feel special, and made them feel they had a place in the world.
I may not know exactly what I want to do for my vocation or where I even want to go with my personal life, but I know I will always follow God. And Msgr. Tuohy showed me this.
He made me believe God is my path. If I trust in God, he will bring me out of any trouble I may be having.
(Allie and her parents, Robert Ferraro and Melanie Cooksie, are members of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis. She graduated from Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis last spring, and is the 12th-grade division winner in the 2009 Indianapolis Serra Club Vocations Essay Contest.) †