For University of Vermont junior Maddie SanAngelo, a “wonderful way to start the weekend” is “doing something outside of yourself,” like serving macaroni and cheese at the Salvation Army in Burlington.

“Being able to spend time with and serve those in need at the Salvation Army is heartwarming,” said the member of the Catholic Center at the university.

But that’s not all this young disciple does to help others: She is part of the service committee at the center and helps organize projects for students there and the university community to give of themselves to benefit others.

She and a friend, Emily Moran, visit with the residents at Our Lady of Providence Residence in Winooski twice a month on Saturdays, playing games, chatting or doing crafts. “It is lovely to hear from these people who have experienced so much and are now settled into quieter times,” she said.

She has also lead a Bible study group on campus.

“A disciple is someone who has dedicated their life to pursuing and sharing Christ’s love,” said SanAngelo, 20, from Trumbull, Connecticut. “The Church needs young people to keep the faith and bring the love of Christ to others especially in this day and age where many young people are not living Christ-centered lives.”

Though she said the university has an “open and accepting culture,” it can still be “a little scary to be expressing your faith outwardly say in the dining halls, in the student center or in the dorms,” she said, adding that students respect confidence in what each individual believes in. “It is an opportunity for conversation and understanding.”

Seeing fellow Catholics confident in their faith motivates her to be the same. “When I am with others who live out their faith fully and joyfully, I am then not conscious of what others around me may think,” she said.

She credits God’s graces that she is pursuing virtues and being with others on their journey.

When there is snow on the ground SanAngelo can be found skiing every weekend; she tries to spend as much time as she can outdoors.

After graduation she hopes to do environmental assessment work to protect human health. “I don’t believe that anybody should be at risk for harm just because of where they live, work or play,” she said.

—Originally published in the Fall 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.