January 28, 2022

Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Relying on his faith in a time of fear brings a student closer to God, his school community and the purpose for his life

By John Shaughnessy

Patrick Van GheemPatrick Van Gheem recalls it as one of the toughest times of his life, a time when he turned to God and the community of Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis for help.

“I don’t talk about it too much, but there are many points at which I relied on my faith,” says Patrick, a senior at Cardinal Ritter. “Born prematurely, one of my brothers remained in the newborn intensive care unit for weeks.

“In those moments, it became difficult for me to get up for school knowing that he was still fighting for his life at that moment. The worst part was knowing that the outcome of whether he would recover or stay in the hospital was out of my control. But the best part was knowing that my brother was in the care of two groups of people I trusted very greatly: health care professionals and, of course, God and the saints in heaven.

“This moment gave me comfort in my faith, knowing that God was there for me every day. I saw it in the community of Ritter, praying for my brother. I relied on my faith in that moment, and I am glad to say God came through. My brother is alive and well now.”

Patrick believes his faith will continue to serve him as he strives to pursue a career as a doctor.

Catholic teaching “is to not give abortions, refuse euthanasia and care for every patient,” he says. “These beliefs will allow me to be a better doctor and a better person in the future.”

His four years at Cardinal Ritter have developed his faith, strengthened his relationship with God and prepared him for the future he envisions, he says.

“My education has shown me ways that I can utilize my faith in everyday life. The biggest examples are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Cardinal Ritter has taught me to value each human. By using these works of mercy, I have been able to find volunteering opportunities through the way of my faith. That, to me, defines my education at Cardinal Ritter.” †


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