Share this story

 | By Katie Camario

Active Faith Participation Earns Scholarships for Students

May 9, 2023 | Three high school seniors have been named recipients of the first-ever, St. Maria Goretti Education Scholarship Award sponsored by the St. Petersburg Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. The scholarship recognizes young women who are practicing Catholics and active participants in their parish community.

Samantha from Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church in Tampa won first place with her scholarship essay submission titled, “How can I say yes, as the Blessed Mother said yes?”.

In her essay, Samantha wrote, “It took tremendous courage for Mary to give a willing acceptance to be the Mother of God. In my own life, I find that the amount of strength it takes to say 'yes' to God is sometimes unbelievably hard to summon.”

Samantha continued, "My will is unwieldy, and my intellect is not always strong enough to combat it. However, all it takes is that one simple word, fiat, and I can choose to let God's grace grow in my life."

She found her fiat, or yes, to serve God, and created and launched an online group for young women called Fiat 90.

“I hosted weekly Zoom meetings where we would discuss the Fruits of the Holy Spirit - one for every week of Fiat,” she explained. “The guidelines had rules about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, as well as other asceticisms like working out regularly and fasting from TV and social media.”

The group which started with seven young women has now grown to more than 30 participants.

“Today's society is not Christ-centered and we want to encourage Christ-centered young women to profess their faith, to share their faith, to go out into the world and not be ashamed to talk about their Catholic faith,” said Mary Woltman, Chairman of the St. Maria Goretti Scholarship Committee. “It's important for them to be able to speak about their faith.”

The two other young women recognized were Alexis, a parishioner of St. Michael the Archangel in Clearwater, who received second place and Gabriella, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Rosary in Land O’ Lakes, who received third place.

Both young women wrote their essays on the topic on “How can I, as a young Catholic woman, contribute to the St. Petersburg Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Mission of to support, empower, and educate all Catholic women in Spirituality, Leadership and Service.”

The three recipients received their awards and were recognized by Bishop Gregory Parkes during the group’s 55th annual convention May 5th.

Women from around the Diocese attended the convention, where talks centered on the theme, "We are Women of the Eucharist."

This is the inaugural year for the St. Maria Goretti Education Scholarship Award. It will now be awarded annually to Catholic young women in the 12th grade of high school who will be entering college or vocational training following graduation.

In total, the scholarship awarded $2,000 in funds to the three deserving recipients. The scholarship is named after Saint Maria Teresa Goretti, patroness of purity, young women, and victims of assault.

To read the the winner's essay submissions and to learn more about the St. Petersburg Diocesan Council of Catholic Women click here.