Saint Mary’s High School student Cara Midwinter is excited to represent not just the school’s community, but all Catholic young people on Long Island as a member of the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Diocesan Pastoral Council. The advisory council was created in 2008 to foster collaboration and communication between the bishop and the laity.
Midwinter, a junior who graduated from St. Mary’s Elementary School before attending the high school, is one of two high school students from all of Long Island selected to be a member of the council, which consists primarily of lay leadership as well as priests and religious leaders. Grace M. Cavallo, president of the Schools of Saint Mary, had been contacted by Father Irinel Racos, diocesan chancellor, about selecting a junior who was committed to his or her faith, who had a strong voice, and who could represent the teen and young adult perspective as a member of the council. A committee of St. Mary’s teachers and administrators selected Midwinter and sent her information to the diocese for approval. She was ultimately approved and appointed to the council by Bishop William Murphy.
“Cara is a wonderful student, a proud Catholic, and a strong believer,” noted Father Racos, “and we all are honored to have her with us as part of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.”
Her first experience as a member of the council was on Oct. 4 at St. Matthew’s Church in Dix Hills, and days later, Midwinter was still gushing about it.
“I was awestruck” at the meeting, she said, “because there were several bishops sitting to my left and I was the only person there under the age of 20.”
The focus of the day was diversity, and featured a presentation on the diocese’s outreach to different ethnic communities through their multicultural apostolates, a presentation by Bishop Murphy on his recent trip to the Middle East and the celebration of Mass. A discussion on diversity followed and everyone was invited to contribute. Even though she was the youngest person there, Midwinter made sure she spoke up.
“Diversity is such a big part of St. Mary’s, so I wanted to participate in the conversation,” she said. “I love how diverse St. Mary’s is because it brings so many people together. I love how you look around and see so many people from different walks of life. The world is a diverse place and I know when I graduate, I’ll be ready.”
Midwinter noted that after she spoke, Bishop Murphy commended her for being a witness to other young Catholics through her participation. She said that after the meeting, her mother asked how it went and she told her, “it was awesome.” Because the council consists of bishops and lay church leaders, “it was a little intimidating,” she admitted.