By DIANE SCHLINDWEIN
The Springfield Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (SDCCW) recently announced the names of four young women from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois who will be recognized at the Women of Distinction Mass and luncheon on July 23. These young women were selected from 46 applicants and will receive $1,000 from SDCCW.
“These young ladies, along with all the other outstanding applicants, are fruit of the earth and hope for all,” said Mary Ann Sullivan, the SDCCW scholarship chair. “Tribute goes to their parents and all those in their lives that have taught them their faith by word and example. They are a witness and inspiration to all of us.”
The 2022 winners are:
Ava Kessler, daughter of Dan and Kim Kessler of Newton, is a member of Holy Cross Parish in Wendelin. She is a graduate of Newton Community High School.
She is president and an active member of her parish youth group, attended March for Life in Washington, D.C., two times, and has gone on three mission trips with Catholic HEART Workcamp. Active in sports and band, Ava was also named captain of the girls’ basketball team. She was teacher assistant in the fifth-grade classroom and volunteered at the COVID vaccination drive-thru. She is also a volunteer umpire for local Little League games. Ava will be attending the University of Illinois where she will be enrolled in General Studies. “I am thankful for my parish and family that have formed me into the young lady I am today,” she said.
Grace Lynch, who is from Sullivan and a member of Holy Family Parish in Decatur, is a home school graduate. She is the daughter of Melissa and Brian Lynch. Her Church-related activities include being a church organist/pianist, a lector, a Vacation Bible School volunteer, and a Catholic Charities volunteer for five years. Grace is a dance teacher at Sullivan Dance Studio and created her own dance classes for under resourced home-schooled students, inventing her own curriculum and marketing the program across Central Illinois. She is now teaching over 25 classes using Zoom for homeschoolers and for other students, as well during COVID. She received the Girl Scout Gold Award, has been a house manager for professional theater, and dance captain for multiple productions. She is also founder of non-partisan group Teens in Politics and is active in Right to Life activities. Grace will be attending University of Notre Dame studying political science toward a career as lawyer.
Jenna Ochs is from West Liberty, is a member of St. Mary’s Assumption Parish in Sainte Marie, and graduate of Newton Community High School. She is the daughter of Jeff and Lisa Ochs. At her parish she is an altar server, lector, parish Youth Group member, and a Living Stations participant. She also attended the March for Life for three years. Jenna was also captain of her school volleyball team and volunteers as a junior volleyball coach. Additionally, she is an active member and officer in FFA earning a State degree, and is a long-time 4-H member. Jenna will attend Illinois Central College to study sports medicine/physical therapy. “I strive to lead by example and by my faith to others,” she said.
Monica Wendle is from Godfrey, is a member of St. Mary Parish in Alton, and is a graduate of Marquette Catholic High School. She is the daughter of Eric and Marci Wendle. She reads Scripture daily, is a eucharistic minister, cantor, and lector. Monica created a nail painting booth for parish picnic fund-raiser and organized a prayer group for eight-grade students in the parish grade school. She was a member of Campus Ministry Club at her high school where she created a project that included making biblical message cards with candy attached for students. She organized caroling and the collection of Christmas cards for local nursing homes. Monica donated 11 inches of her hair to Children With Hair Loss. She also enjoys sewing and made 16 lap quilts for hospice patients. Monica will attend Lewis and Clark Junior College and then move onto Ave Maria University to study education and communications. “I am so humbled and blessed to receive the SDCCW scholarship award,” she said.