Graduating with Grace (Our Lady of Mercy)

My job as a youth minister is to accompany teens through their high school years, offering support from a faith-based perspective. The hope is that through our relationship, they will encounter God's love in the forms of shared prayer, joy, and encouragement to fulfill their unique and unrepeatable potential as beloved children of a Divine Creator. At our all girls Catholic high school, as in many other schools, I'm sure, I encounter on any given day young women who range from being confident, self-assured and physically fit, to those who over-commit and over-achieve, to those who are really struggling with nutrition, self-image, family life, academics and balancing other's expectations.

I asked Jackie to visit our senior classes as part of a workshop to help prepare them for making a healthy transition into college life. It turned out to be a gift on so many levels because she approached the discussion of health and wellness from such a holistic perspective - both naturally and supernaturally. She didn't limit her advice to counting calories on a nutrition label, but rather prioritized discussions about sleep and stress management, preparation for meals, relationships with friends, family, and most importantly, God. She validated my students' needs by sharing her personal story, listening to theirs, and answering questions with respect to all the factors (mind, body and soul) which equally contribute to their ability to live healthily. In order to put these lessons into motion, she also prepared handouts with specific, practical examples of how exactly the students could begin to align themselves with their God-given potential for greatness, both physically and spiritually.

I am so grateful to have had Jackie come to our school, most especially for the simple witness she gives. Her example is exposure for my students - proof of what it looks and sounds like to be a dynamic, virtuous, successful, focused, feminine, faithful and intelligent woman of God in today's world. It is so often that they see otherwise in their lives and in the media. Jackie taught my students by her words, but more loudly by her presence, that their best life is within their grasp and worth working hard for! I am confident that this truth has resonated in a way which they will carry for many years to come. Thank you, Jackie!

- Theresa Marino, Syosset, New York

Ms. Jackie Mulligan was a God sent. Her own faith journey and educational background are amazing. She is and was a vibrant witness to our entire senior class student body. She was able to speak to the holistic side of being healthy: sleeping, eating right, relationships, managing stress and especially faith. Her important insight is that all of this, but especially prayer, center us and align us correctly. She provided our girls with practical and tangible advice. She provided resources and valuable anecdotes for them that will impact them for a lifetime. Her intentional faith and Christ centered lifestyle are what makes her healthy and nutritional plate unique. We hope to have her again! Thank you, Jackie!

- David Espinal, Syosset, New York