Home Education and Careers Use your gifts for others, Diocese of Wilmington Bishop Koenig tells St....

Use your gifts for others, Diocese of Wilmington Bishop Koenig tells St. Francis de Sales Award honorees

St. Elizabeth High School students process in during the St. Francis deSales Awards convocation and Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, April 26. Dialog photo/Don Blake

BEAR — Seventy high school seniors — 10 from each Catholic high school in the Diocese of Wilmington — were honored April 26 with the St. Francis de Sales Award at a Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Bear. Bishop Koenig presented each of the students with an award medal that features St. Francis de Sales on the front and the invocation, “St. Francis de Sales, pray for us,” on the back.

St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of the Diocese of Wilmington. An accomplished preacher and writer, he is known for his goodness, patience and mildness.

The church was filled with the students and their families, as well as representatives from each of the schools. Each student had his or her medal placed around their neck by the bishop while a representative from his or her school read a list of accomplishments, college destinations and career ambitions.

During his homily, Bishop Koenig told the students that they were there to celebrate the students’ gifts that the congregation had learned about during the medal ceremony.

“We especially recognize the way we’ve been given those gifts and we share those gifts with others,” he said.

That is true no matter the nature of the gift. Whether that was as a student, a student government leader, community servant, athlete, artist, or as a brother or sister to a classmate, “we’re especially mindful of how you use those gifts for the good of God, to help others. And that’s really the purpose of why God gives us those gifts,” the bishop said.

Bishop Koenig asked if any of the students took Latin. Finally, one girl raised her hand, and he asked her if she knew the meaning of the phrase “carpe diem.” A number of students responded, “Seize the day.”

“I love that phrase, ‘seize the day,’ ‘seize the moment.’ I would just encourage you to seize those moments that present themselves to you, to use your gifts for the good of others,” Bishop Koenig said.

Most often, those opportunities occur in very ordinary ways, he continued. The students can share their gifts by being merciful, loving and encouraging, and by teaching by example.

One of Bishop Koenig’s previous assignments was at a seminary in New York. He told the story of a seminarian who worked at a soup kitchen in the Bronx. It was operated by the Missionaries of Charity, and their leader, Mother Teresa, was scheduled to visit. The seminarian very much wanted to meet the nun, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was canonized in 2016.

The seminarian did not see Mother Teresa on the day she was scheduled to visit, and toward the end of his day, his final assignment was to put some groceries away. He went into the kitchen, and in the corner he saw a nun in the corner peeling potatoes. Recognizing the woman as Mother Teresa, the seminarian introduced himself and asked if she had any words that might help him in his ministry.

“She looked at him and she said, ‘Peel some potatoes,’” Bishop Koenig recalled.

Afterward, the seminarian thought about what she had said. The bishop said the man realized that Mother Teresa was telling him to “seize that moment in which you can provide for those in need, for what you can do for that person who’s in front of you.”

The award recipients are as follows”

Archmere Academy

Domenico Anerino

Kathryn Benson

Aiden Cawley

Sara Denning

Natalie Gildea

Jessica Lattanzi

Roisin Liew

Natale Morda

Kieran Udovich

Kyle Zahnow


Padua Academy

Bridget Casey

Sarah Ciocco

Molly Fink

Shannon Finney

Bethany Makori

Claire Merchant

Stephanie Ng

Anna Szczerba

Rachel Smookler

Trisha Srikanth


St. Elizabeth High School

Salvacion Barrett

Jenna Bozzo

Gianna DiStefano

Lauren MacAllister

Dominic Mazzarelli

Christian Nguyen

Bridgette Rivers

Joel Rodriguez

Claudia Sweeney

Farrah White


Saint Mark’s High School

Anna Bonitatibus

Kaileigh Brady

Abigail Catts

Rachel Evancho

Madelynne Ferro

Matthew Hanich

Maximillian Hanling

Gabriella Pileggi

Anthony Staropoli

Julia Yurkovich


Ss. Peter and Paul High School

Jens Denton

William Hamilton

Sarah Kyle

Catherine Langston

Samuel Lovell

Ryan McHale

Hattie Messick

Evelyn Murphy

Maguire Perry

Paige Simonsen


Salesianum School

Will Ansley

Jacob Binkley

Jared Estrada

Marcello Gariffo

Elijah Gibson

Leo Guzman

Drew Pryor

Blake Reilly

Xavier Schweitzer

Divine Taniform


Ursuline Academy

Amanda Ballard

Amelia Cradler

Lindsey DePiero

Olivia Hanson

Mary Kate Keegan

Isabella Koechert

Clare Kornacki

Jordan Myrick

Audrey Pachuta

Karina Vattasseril