“Growing up Catholic, my parents would go to Church every Sunday and I would always try and skip Mass every Sunday. But ever since I started going to youth group, it just helped me realize how God is really important and how my faith really has shaped the person I am today. It helps me with my decisions I make each day.”

Washington High School senior and St. Adalbert’s parishioner Manel Pacheco is our Redeemer Radio Student of the Month for May in Michiana. Redeemer Radio’s Student of the month, presented by St. Joseph Health System, recognizes students who excel in the classroom, show a strong Catholic faith, and are involved in extracurricular activities at school or in the community.

“My faith has grown a lot,” Manuel says of the last two years. “Before I started going to youth group, I didn’t really think about wanting to go to Church and about my faith.”

Manuel says attending the youth group at St. Adalbert’s has helped him grow by hearing from all the speakers that share their story of their relationship with God. It made Manuel realize he needed a better relationship with God too. Now, Manuel’s relationship with God is strong through the youth group. He helps with car washes, food sales and has attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis and the March for Life. He says seeing so many teenagers coming together from across the nation to support being pro life was very powerful to him.

Another impactful activity Pacheco has enjoyed with the youth group is visiting the homeless center in South Bend.

“We go down there, we feed people, we talk to them, we give them hot chocolate, coffee, bread, food,” Pacheco explains. “God says you have to help your neighbors out. You have to help your neighbors out. Every single time we go down there I feel so relieved because we are literally helping other people around our community that can’t afford food, or healthy water or a house. We just want to go there, help them out and make their day.”

Fr. Ryan Pietrocarlo, pastor of St. Adalbert’s Parish, nominated Manuel.

“He is always asking me good questions,” Fr. Ryan said. “He serves as an usher at Mass on Sunday and loves to serve the Lord in this way. He cherishes his friendships and wants to be like Christ for them. He is a wonderful example of charity and faith for his peers and for our parish.”

Manuel says he enjoys talking to his friends about faith.

“Every single time I talk to my friends, I always tell them, always have faith in God,” Manuel says. “No matter what you are going through, always have faith in God. Be patient because God always has your back. God always protects.”

Pacheco says he’s going to miss his time being a student at South Bend Washington High School.

“At the beginning of my freshman year, I was super nervous. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. All my friends went to Adams. As the years came, I started talking to my classmates and it’s been an amazing time. I’ve made so many friendships, so many memories. The teachers there are amazing. It’s been a crazy rollercoaster but I love it. I’m going to miss it so much.”

Pacheco is President of the Latino Student Union at Washington and he maintains a 3.86 GPA. He says his studies are very important to him.

“I want to have straight A’s,” Manuel says. “I spend almost all day doing my homework. Getting my assignments done on the same day they are given out to students is really important to me. If I have one missing assignment, I get stressed.”

Manuel will attend IU South Bend next year, majoring in pre-med.

He once had to go to the hospital to have his heart checked out and it inspired him to want to be a doctor or cardiologist. He found out then he had severe anxiety. Manuel says he’s gone through periods of times where he’d had three panic attacks a day.

“Every single time I have one, I always talk to God. Every single time.” Manuel says. “I go to Church, I go to youth group and I talk to God and tell him that I need him for my anxiety and it really helps. Every time I get in a car, I pray to God. Since the pandemic, me and my mom always pray the rosary every single day. God has a major role in my life. He’s literally shaping my life.”

Be sure to check out our interview with Manuel from the Daily Refill that’s linked above. The Student of the Month interview airs between 7:30-8am on the 1st Wednesday of each month on Redeemer Radio. To nominate a Student of the Month, go to redeemerradio.com/student and fill out the form.

Congratulations Manuel!