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Growing God's Love through Service

February 14, 2019
By Gabriella Todd, HTCS class of 2012 and Nolan Catholic High School class of 2016

From a young age, I’ve always known I wanted to work in the medical field, serving others for the glory of the Lord. After attending Holy Trinity and graduating in 2012 I continued my education at Nolan Catholic High School.

 My senior year I had an amazing opportunity to go with my Ecology class to Costa Rica, we spent most of the trip in the rainforest and on the water doing research but a day was set aside to go into one of the small towns to spend time loving on the kids and bringing them books, crayons, toys etc.  

For me, I didn’t want to leave, I wanted the rest of my trip to be spent in this town sharing the love of Christ with them. When I came back to the states I could not help but wonder what more I could do to share the word of the Lord and to love others. It continuously bugged me and I kept looking for opportunities to serve.

When I graduated and began my college education at Texas Tech I decided to join a girls Christian sorority with some friends. We had opportunity after opportunity to serve in our community and it was amazing how we were all able to come together and help out others that live just down the street from us that were needing our help.

Sophomore year, we had a speaker come talk to us about a chance to go to the Dominican Republic for about a month for a mission trip. I instantly felt the urge to apply and to start attending meetings that would help us learn how to fundraise.

After a couple of months the woman in charge called me and asked if I would be willing to lead my group of 16 girls. I was overwhelmed, terrified, and doubtful but somehow by the end of the conversation I said yes and felt instant peace.

We began fundraising, setting up flights, learning about the culture, and eventually by the end of May 2018 we were ready to serve and fulfill the plan God had in store for us.

Arriving in the Dominican Republic we were greeted by other missionaries that live there full time on the base, where we would be staying for about a month. Each of my girls and I were stationed at different sites where we could use our gifts and talents in the most effective way.

As a team we grew closer and closer after each night of worship and prayer and began to realize all the doubts and fears we had coming on this trip were from the enemy not from God.

We were overwhelmed with peace and joy and knew this is exactly where we needed to be in this moment. After returning it was a hard transition to come back and go back to just our daily lives.  A lot of us didn’t want to leave them behind.

Every day the families we served in the Dominican inspire me to do all things for the glory of God. I am currently applying to the Texas Tech nursing school for Fall 2019 and hope to one day become a missionary nurse. I will be returning to the Dominican this spring break 2019 as a leader with another group of girls who are on fire for the Lord and I cannot wait to be back. 

 

A Thrill Of Hope, The Weary World Rejoices…

December 07, 2018
By HTCS Crusader

A Thrill Of Hope, The Weary World Rejoices…

By Candace Sandifer

                  I remember my youngest daughter’s first Advent, because of how truly awful it all went down. I had been preparing for months in advance, Christmas outings reserved, matching outfits purchased with coordinating bows and shirts for her older brothers, presents galore, parties planned, photos scheduled and then….the flu. Yes. The full on FLU hit the house hard that first week in December.  Those Santa photos? Only my oldest son and my husband could attend. (Those are still Carson’s favorite photos with just himself and Santa. No siblings. What a win for him ;)) The ride on the Polar Express that was well over $100? Tickets sold the day before we were ready to ride.  The tickets to the Symphony? Handed over to friends while my husband and my sweet baby girl, who was only 10 months old at the time, moped in misery while it felt like everyone else in the world was celebrating like we should have been.  I ended up with not only the flu, which morphed into bronchitis, but also the gift of two stress fractures in my ribs from the constant coughing.  If I had not been listening to the soft whispers of my God asking me to slow down before, his obvious hand in physically forcing me to slow down was seen and felt loud and clear that season.  The following year, in true Type A Facebook world of mothering fashion I was at it again. Overcommitting, over spending, overdoing, overworking, over………everything.  Santa visits with screaming exhausted toddlers and preschoolers just aren’t fun. Not for you, not for your kids and certainly not for Santa. But, we went anyways. I imagine God shaking his head in a knowing fashion at my escapades.

                  We all fall victim to the Christmas Crazy.  For many of us, this cycle repeats year after year and isn’t exclusive to our generation. My husband and I laugh every year at the song  “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” when they sing “ And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again” and laugh like crazed maniacs. I mean, this is what Christmas is about! Everyone loses their mind while preparing for the most wonderful time of the year! Right?

Christmas, or truly, Advent is meant to be a time of joyful anticipation. Joyful. Not anxious, overcommitted, “at each other’s throats for the perfect Christmas card photo can this be OVER now please” anticipation.  Joy. Peace. Hope.   The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gives us this easy explanation of what Advent is and what it means:

 Advent has a twofold character:

  • as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered;
  • as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time.

Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation [Norms 39].

I can say, that many times our Advent preparations are anything but devout, and seriously lacking in joy. But there are always times, every year, when I sit back with a smile on my face and watch my little ones drinking in the spirit of the season and I tear up with the love of a mama who is mostly grateful for them and how much they make Christmas a joy for us.  More often than not, these are the unplanned nights and days. Those quieter times with family, at home, in front of the Christmas tree drinking a simple cup of Swiss Miss cocoa.  I realize, those are the times to be treasured.  As our kids have gotten older we have settled on three solid Christmas traditions in our family: gingerbread house building the day after Thanksgiving to kick off the season, buying a live tree and setting it up together and yes, the symphony.  Anything more than that, is a bonus. If it happens, great, if not no big deal. No more three hour lines for the Mall Santa Photo, if we catch one at a breakfast with him, that’s the picture we frame, and these days most of those photos are free.  No more trains to the North Pole.  No more $350 dollar 13 foot live trees that are a pain to decorate and always leave us more frustrated than merry. Enough. If it truly doesn’t bring joy it goes off the calendar.

Fewer plans, and more quiet…and it is absolutely still a struggle to live by that commitment. I live for sweet photo ops, I want to give my kiddos the best Christmas experiences ever.  We all do.  However, that intense feeling of love for my kids pales in comparison of the love Jesus, our newborn king has for us, and that’s the message of Advent.  God loves us so much that he sent his son down to be born of a Virgin, in a manger, to live among us and spread the message of his love and then to die on a cross for every single one of us. No matter our sins, no matter our failings, no matter how many times we post on Facebook those fake photos that never quite tell the whole story.  He loves us. Christmas is a reminder of how much he loves us.   And that is when my weary heart fills with joy.  I am the daughter of a King, born to us in Bethlehem and I anxiously wait in joyful expectation for his coming again.  He will come again! What a message for our weary and worn world.  A thrill of hope, our weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.  He is coming, praise Him.   

Won’t you join our family in this season of wonder to step back, stay home and live in the moment?  Even if you cancel one thing from your calendar this year, it’s a start.   We are so grateful to have our children in a school that supports families in the time of Advent, and what better way to encourage those teachings than to take them to heart in our own homes this season. Less crazy, and more Christmas.   Let’s take the time to light the candles on our advent wreaths instead. Let’s devote a few more minutes to Jesus. He is so worthy of our time and devotion.

“For to us a child is born…and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…establishing justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” 

Blessings to everyone as we embark on the season of joyful expectation.  Alleluia! The Son of God is born! 

 

Thankful

October 31, 2018
By HTCS Crusader

Post grad life. Three words that can strike terror in the heart of any college student. If I am being honest these three words caused a good amount of fear for me in my last year studying at Franciscan University of Steubenville. It just felt like there were so many options, all good, for what I could pursue after graduation. There was the idea that I could teach history, the subject I got my minor in, a track in which I could start doing historical research in DC for a non-profit, a thought that perhaps I could work in a parish doing evangelical work, or finally the most outlandish idea that I could move to Italy and study at the Sacred Art School to pursue a long held dream of painting sacred art. Through God’s direction and the wisdom of my family and friends I decided to move to Michigan and take a position as the Director of Evangelization and Youth Ministry at an incredible parish.

 All of this leads me to what I want to address here – thankfulness. The greatest thing I am thankful for, and I think anyone could be thankful for, is that the Lord is good and has a great plan for us. I never imagined I would end up moving north or working as a youth minister. However, I am tremendously grateful that He led me here for this confusing time in my life because though I do not know the big reasons I am working and living here yet, I can see His hand leading me.

 I believe I can easily attribute the trust I have been taught in the Lord’s plan to my parents and to my formation from Holy Trinity. God’s plan is so wild: when we moved from Dallas to be closer to the airport my mom and dad specifically picked Colleyville because of the good public schools. All it took was one drive past Holy Trinity to remind them of the dream both had of sending their kids to Catholic school as they had really appreciated their own Catholic school educations. Fast forward almost eighteen years and the Cummings family has had at least one kid at HTCS every year since. As long as I can remember the school has been a part of my life. From being picked to be Mary in our Las Posadas procession in Kindergarten to vocations day in fifth grade and finally to eighth grade when we watched movies about incredible saints in religion class and got to go on a day retreat, I have been learning about the Lord and His love for me. It is difficult to put into words how thankful I am for that gift.

There is something about moving away from home that can make you realize how incredible your parents really are. Ask any of my new friends in Michigan what I think of Jackie and Jim Cummings and you will get an earful. I think that the reason that Holy Trinity was able to have such an impact on my spiritual life and intellectual life is because the school’s values lined up perfectly with what I was already being taught at home. As I was being allowed to explore my interests at home (funny enough these were collecting rocks, reading, and playing chess) Holy Trinity gave me great opportunities to actually do them. I am thankful for classes like art with teachers like Mrs. Loar who sparked a love of painting in me. Elementary school is an immensely formative time and I believe so many of the things I love now can be attributed to going to HTCS.

So now, as a recent college grad with a big girl job I am beginning to see how lucky I am. It was the love and support of my parents, the closeness to my incredibly fun siblings, tender and encouraging teachers, and the Catholic environment of Holy Trinity that I am thankful to for helping me get here today. Post grad life isn’t too scary when you know God will lead you where you need to go so long as you do your part to work hard, love hard, and be thankful for all he has given you.  

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