Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

'Their View of the World Is So Beautiful'

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

'Their View of the World Is So Beautiful'

Article excerpt

Although she is only 20, Diana Oliva is an old hand at teaching catechism classes at St. Hyacinth, a large Hispanic parish on Milwaukee's south side.

"My mom jokes that I've spent my whole life in catechism classes because I kept wanting to go after I made first Communion," Oliva said. "When I was in the confirmation program, I felt the call to serve as a catechist. I felt it was the right way for me to live my faith and I've been doing it ever since."

This is her fourth year teaching Saturday classes at the parish. She admits she was initially nervous about this year's class: nine boys, ages 11 to 16. No need for the jitters--the boys are attentive and respectful, almost always showing up on time. She teaches the class mostly in Spanish, the language she and most of the boys speak at home, but flows into English when needed.

Jovani Guerrero, a tall seventh-grader, is more comfortable speaking English. He says he comes to the class because he wants to learn more about Jesus and God but he's not certain exactly what he believes. The day an NCR reporter visited, the class learned about the Annunciation, or as Guerrero put the message: "God helps us in the tough moments. He's always there for us."

A junior at Cardinal Stritch University, Oliva is majoring in secondary education with a minor in religious studies. Her volunteerism doesn't end with her catechism class, said Breanna Mekuly, the university minister who nominated Oliva, her student assistant, for recognition.

"She is the definition of what being a minister is all about," said Mekuly "She preaches, leads small groups and plans retreats on campus, and she communicates well with the young people at St. …

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