March 23, 2018

Spirit of Service winners create beauty from brokenness

Spirit of Service Youth honoree Michael Isakson helped to create the mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe that greets women to Birthline, the Catholic Charities Indianapolis program that provides assistance to women in need. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

Spirit of Service Youth honoree Michael Isakson helped to create the mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe that greets women to Birthline, the Catholic Charities Indianapolis program that provides assistance to women in need. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

Breaking and smashing plates and china were all part of 18-year-old Michael Isakson’s most memorable, faith‑related project.

Still, the best part was using all those pieces to create a result that is lasting, beautiful and inspiring.

In a way, that creative process reflects the lives of Michael and the three other individuals who will be honored during the archdiocese’s Spirit of Service Awards dinner in Indianapolis on April 24: Rita Kriech, Paul Hnin and Michael Patchner.

All four have taken the different—and sometimes broken—pieces of their lives to make their own defining impression on the world.

With the help of an aunt, Michael Isakson used those broken pieces of plates and china to create the mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe that greets women who come to Birthline, the Catholic Charities Indianapolis program that provides assistance to mothers in need.

Creating the mosaic was part of his Eagle Scout project that also included collecting more than 3,000 rosaries to be shared with the 1,500 mothers who come to Birthline at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis for help every year.

“Giving the women a rosary was showing them their individual beauty—and that the community was showing their support through prayer,” says Michael, who will receive the Spirit of Service Youth Award from the archdiocese.

Like the mosaic, there are other pieces that reveal the larger picture of his commitment to making a difference to others. He’s the president of the Service Learning Club at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis, helping to organize the efforts of students to serve others in their community.

The senior has also spent weeks during the past two summers volunteering at Catholic Heart Work Camps in Virginia and Michigan, working with other Catholic high school students to build and repair homes for families.

Michael—a member of the soccer, swimming and boys’ volleyball teams at Cardinal Ritter and a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis—has also volunteered at Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis, and he helps children with disabilities through his involvement in the Joseph Maley Foundation.

“Service is the way for me to bring Christ’s love into the world,” says Michael, who will attend the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, with the hope of becoming an engineer and using his education to develop water projects in Third World countries.

“Through Church, we hear a lot about evangelizing and spreading the word of God. I try my best to show Jesus through my actions.” †

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