Saints chaplain Father Carl Fissette, Sara Taborda, Grace Senra and teacher Michael Santilli

Saints chaplain Father Carl Fissette, Sara Taborda, Grace Senra, and teacher Michael Santilli at the cathedral.


Sara Taborda and Grace Senra, both seniors at Saint Raphael Academy, will be presented with the St. Timothy Award, a National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry Award, at a Mass and ceremony at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on March 13.

The St. Timothy Award is given to high school junior or senior Catholic youths who exemplify Catholic morals and integrity, demonstrate Gospel values through acts of service, and are Christian leaders in their parish, school or community. It is the highest honor a diocese may grant to a youth, according to the Catholic Youth Ministry website.

Not surprisingly, both Grace and Sara are involved in many of the same activities at Saint Raphael. Both are members of the Lasallian Youth Group and assist with planning the Senior Citizen Prom at St. Germain Manor and caring for children at a monthly Heritage Park YMCA afterschool program, among other activities.  Both volunteer for the admissions office as ambassadors and tour guides for open house, and both are part of the student council—Grace as a class representative and Sara as president.

Sara was nominated by Mary Beth Reynolds, pastoral services director at Saint Raphael Academy, who said in her recommendation, “Sara lives out her Catholic faith with enthusiasm, joy, dedication and compassion for God and others. She does so with humility, kindness and openness to all.” Ms. Reynolds described how Sara provided critical assistance to her during the SRA freshmen retreat this year by leading presentations on faith and planning icebreaker activities.

As an altar server and lector at St. John the Baptist Church in Pawtucket, Sara is also very involved with her parish community; at the Academy, she serves as both Eucharistic minister and lector as well. Sara also volunteers to serve meals at the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen and is a winter break camp counselor at 560 Prospect Street. She volunteers her time with the Academy’s volleyball team, is on the yearbook staff, and received National Honor Society, French Honor Society and Lasallian Youth Award accolades.

Patricia Kane, assistant director of youth ministry and director of the Rejoice in Hope Youth Center, said it was not just Grace’s numerous service commitments that made her stand out as an ideal candidate for the St. Timothy Award. “We also nominated Grace because of who she is as a young committed Catholic whose actions flow from her deep-rooted relationship with God.  Grace is a person whose kindness and compassion moves her to have a heart of service and takes action, all stemming from her love of God and others,” she said.

A committed volunteer within the diocese, Grace is a planning board member of the diocese middle school retreat, a member of the Providence Diocesan Leadership Team and a SEARCH retreat team leader. Grace also delivers Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for St. Vincent de Paul Society, and is an altar server and lector for St. Brendan Parish in Riverside.

Aside from her service activities, Grace plays tennis for Saint Raphael Academy, and is a member of the Mock Trial Club and Model Legislature. Her honors at the Academy include the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and Moore Scholars, and she was also named to the All-Division team in tennis for the last two years.

Bishop Thomas Tobin will present the awards at the Catholic Youth Ministry and Scout Awards Celebration on Sunday, March 13, at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul at 1 pm. The public is invited to attend.

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