Arteaga_DanielDaniel Arteaga describes his faith as a growing process from the time he entered Saint Raphael Academy four years ago. The dark-haired senior with the constant smile radiates a warmth and ease with others that many adults never attain.

“I’m so grateful for the people here who have fostered my faith and allowed me to be the person that I am, to discover my faith,” he said.

“In the beginning, it was more of service and community for me, but by the end of my four years, I kind of discovered the whole three—faith, service and community—and knowing that each one is interdependent of the other to create the whole Lasallian image.”

On May 20, the senior will be awarded the Distinguished Catholic Youth award, one of 15 Lumen Gentium awards from the Diocese of Providence. This award is one of the highest recognitions given to a youth in the Diocese, and acknowledges the awardee’s “significant contributions to the life of the Church and the Diocese of Providence. The recipients have been identified as outstanding men and women whose service and personal holiness testify to Christ’s presence in His Church as well as His concern for the well-being and salvation of the world.” Daniel was also recently presented with the St. Timothy Award, another youth recognition given by the Diocese.

“Daniel is totally deserving of this award and comes from a wonderful, supportive family. Both he and his sister have been top performers at Saint Raphael Academy. Anamaria won the Edith Peck Award, one of the highest honors the Academy bestows on a student,” said Principal Dan Richard.

In fact, it was his older sister who had joined Lasallian Youth first, and Daniel was intrigued by the social justice issues they addressed and how the group travelled to New York and Washington to present their projects to other Lasallian groups. “I think that right from the start when I knew that helping people was a way to connect my faith, connect myself to God, I felt that it was just a perfect fit from the beginning. It was one of those organizations that you just know that that’s the perfect place for you.” Daniel said.

Once at Saints, he immediately jumped into activities—an April vacation service trip to De La Salle School on Long Island, working in the soup kitchen, participating in the Homeless Sleepout, and spending time with elementary schoolchildren at Heritage Park. Soon, he began to assume a leadership role in the group, often encouraging others to take part. He intuitively knows his classmates and their individual comfort levels with service involvement, and enjoys watching what he calls “a miraculous transformation of the individuals that are here at Saint Ray’s.”

Daniel admits, “It’s definitely a tag-team effort,” with Nancy Benoit and Rita Pratt of Pastoral Services, who have been a significant influence on him—so much so that he plans to follow a similar career in campus ministry or youth ministry.

“It’s interesting that I want to do the same thing that they have done—to inspire people of service, to inspire people of faith, inspire people of community as well.” Daniel will be attending Providence College in the fall, where will major in theology.

“I want something that I’m going to be passionate about and that I know has impacted people in my life. I know that people see that in me—they see faith and they see a connection to Christ, so I know I want to continue with that.”

 

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