Although she received the sacraments of initiation at St. Paul of the Cross Parish, Columbia City, Hahn’s story drew Hamilton into a deeper discovery of her faith.
“I attended CCD classes while growing up and always knew the right answers, but when I read Hahn’s book as a teen, his story touched me on an intellectual level and helped me to see things that I hadn’t thought of before. I thought, ‘Wow, I was born into the Catholic faith and had all the sacraments bestowed on me, and he had to work so hard and overcome many obstacles to embrace his Catholic faith,’” she shared
Hamilton is the director of youth ministry at St. Paul and has been serving the parish in that role since she was in college. Throughout high school and college, she engaged in activities and religion courses that have helped her to develop her content for the youth.
“I enjoyed attending our diocesan youth retreats, which opened my eyes to the different expressions of our faith through praise and worship music, along with the informative presentations that took place. These experiences and the biblical courses I took in college, especially “Understanding the Christian Faith,” have inspired me as I prepare for our Sunday evening gatherings.”
Growing up in Whitko Community Schools fostered Hamilton’s dream of wanting to become a teacher. She also developed a love of science in middle school.
“I wanted to join the English Academic Super Bowl team, but my brother’s friend happened to be the son of the science team coach. At basketball games, he continually bugged me to join his team until I eventually caved. I’m so glad I did. Learning science didn’t stop my love for English but amplified it.”
She took to chemistry in high school and found her niche.
“I discovered that the systematic methods of chemistry gelled well with my perfectionistic, rule-loving personality. When choosing a major, I decided I would rather grade lab reports than book reports, so I entered Huntington University as a chemistry education major.”
While working at Wendy’s during college, Stephanie met her husband, Austin.
“I was not looking for a relationship at the time and was focused on making friends. I prayed to God to make it obvious if I should stop dating him, but instead I really started to like him. I told Austin I had so much fun on our dates, and he asked me something I will never forget: “How do I know if you like me or just like having fun?”
“I realized I enjoyed our dates because I was with him, not necessarily because of the activities we were doing. We were married June 7, 2014, at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Huntington by Father Gary Sigler and we’ve been having fun ever since, now with our two beautiful children, Alexis 4 and Joshua 2.”
Hamilton’s dream of becoming a teacher was fulfilled after graduating from Huntington University. She taught chemistry, biology and integrated chemistry and physics at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne for nearly three years.
“When our daughter was born, I left my teaching position at Luers. I continued serving the parish as the youth minister and found the time to fulfill another passion of mine: I am a Creighton Model Fertility Care Practitioner. I teach part-time from my home office. It’s a beautiful way for me to stay home with my kids during the day while still teaching in the evenings a couple of days a week. I enjoy the professional development and always being challenged to grow and problem-solve.”
Hamilton loves being busy. Her family, part-time FCP meetings and part-time youth minister activities fill her days with joy and give her life, she said. She takes time to listen to podcasts from solid Catholic sources to help her with her personal faith journey and finds content that will interest the teens.
Hamilton and her core team hope by looking at the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and using videos from Formed, the young people she leads will begin to ask deeper life questions.
“I hope that the teens seek out the answers to questions like, what is the purpose of life? What happens after death? Why does the Church teach __?, What is the Eucharist? and so on. By discovering the answers to these questions, a lifelong relationship with Jesus will develop within them,” concluded Hamilton.
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