For Lauren Johnston, a love for piano led her to a deeper faith in Christ.
“I began playing the piano when I was six years old and am classically trained in music. But I didn’t find fulfillment in playing classical music; I found happiness in playing the piano at Mass.”
Johnston, a senior at Seminole Ridge High School in Loxahatchee, spends her Sunday nights leading the choir and playing piano for the teen Mass at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola. Her involvement in this Mass is just one of the things that led her to be the recipient of the St. Timothy Youth Award, which she received at the diocesan Baccalaureate-Graduation Mass, May 7.
The St. Timothy Youth Award is a national recognition presented to youth by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in collaboration with the Office of Marriage, Family Life, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry of the Diocese of Palm Beach. The award honors a local high school senior who lives as a disciple of Christ, setting a positive example for other youth; is a witness to their faith by exhibiting Catholic morals and integrity; demonstrates Gospel values through service to others; and exhibits Christian leadership in parish, school and community settings.
Johnston lives as a disciple of Christ in her daily Mass attendance and her frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. She instructs the parish’s vacation Bible school summer camp in worship music with dance and is also a pro-life advocate who leads groups in peaceful prayer during the 40 Days for Life campaigns.
“My parents have instilled in me a great love for prayer and the Eucharist. Attending daily Mass and pro-life activities was a large part of my childhood that has shaped me into the woman I am today,” said Johnston.
Johnston shared that Dee Aitken, director of Religious Education and Youth Ministry at the Cathedral, encouraged her to apply for the award. “I was hesitant at first because many of the past winners were Valedictorians and very academic students at their schools. That’s not me, but Mrs. Dee reassured me and so I applied,” said Johnston.
To her surprise, Johnston was selected out of 15 applicants from throughout the Diocese of Palm Beach. A select committee of diocesan staff were assembled to blindly assess applicants based on their fulfillment of the award’s criteria. In addition to the national recognition, Johnston will receive $1,000 in scholarship assistance.
Johnston’s service to the community includes preparing sandwiches for the homeless, assembling Christmas gift boxes for underprivileged children through Cross Catholic Outreach and performing classical piano recitals for the elderly in nursing facilities. However, her time with the Life Teen Music Ministry remains one of the brightest memories in her high school career.
“I felt a little empty before joining the music ministry. Something just clicked inside me when I put my talents towards the glory of God,” Johnston said.
Johnston intends to carry this passion for the Lord into her future as a college student. She will attend her local community college to complete her A.A. and then transfer into the University of Florida to major in Architecture.
“I’m ready to embrace the challenges of the future, especially knowing that I have such a great faith community supporting me at home.”
To view the Baccalaureate-Graduation Mass at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola, visit https://www.diocesepb.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.details&ArticleId=501179&tp. To learn more about the Office of Marriage, Family Life, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry of the Diocese of Palm Beach, visit diocesepb.org.
Fourteen students from throughout the Diocese of Palm Beach were recognized locally for the St. Timothy Youth Award. The following received a certificate of nomination:
Sara Cardenas; St. Helen Church, Vero Beach
Chekube Chukwuma; St. Matthew Church, Lake Worth
Nicholas Falcone; St. Clare Church, North Palm Beach
Esmeralda Jacinto; St. Joseph Church, Stuart
Celia Ann Kessler; St. Jude Church, Boca Raton
Steven Maxim Joltki; St. Martin de Porres Church, Jensen Beach
Christopher Mee; St. Patrick Church, Palm Beach Gardens (nominated by Cardinal Newman High School)
Eva Miklos; St. Peter Church, Jupiter
Caleb Panoch; Ascension Church, Boca Raton
Natalia Panozzo; Holy Name of Jesus Church, West Palm Beach
Gina Saxton; St. Andrew Church, Stuart
Bryce Shevak; St. Anastasia Church, Fort Pierce
Elizabeth Viti; St. Andrew Church, Stuart (nominated by Knights of Columbus)
Alyssa York; St. Sebastian Church, Sebastian