Anyone who has been involved with online schooling in any capacity can attest to its challenges. Being a first-year teacher, I knew last school year would be difficult, but nothing I read about or discussed in my college classes could prepare me for entering the classroom in the midst of a global pandemic. I survived the year with copious amounts of coffee, frequent Taylor Swift car jams, the incredible support of my community, and, of course, daily prayer.
In particular, I found myself turning to the Saints for inspiration and intercession as I navigated the school year. That’s why, in October of 2020, I was overjoyed to learn about Blessed Carlo Acutis and add him to my Heavenly support team.
Carlo Acutis: Online Evangelist
Blessed Carlo Acutis was from Italy and lived from 1991-2006. He was a typical kid: he went to school, he wore blue jeans, and he loved playing video games. However, he was atypical in his immense love for the Eucharist.
At a young age, he used to walk the streets of his hometown with his mother and ask to stop in every church to say hi to Jesus. He saw what a powerful force the Eucharist was in his own life, and he wanted to share this message with others.
He decided to teach himself computer programming and build a website documenting all of the known Eucharistic miracles around the world so that everyone could learn about this incredible gift from God to humanity. Although his life was short (he died of leukemia at the age of 15), he made a monumental impact on the lives of those around him and in the universal Church, which resulted in his cause for canonization being brought to and approved by the Vatican. Still today, he inspires those in the Church through his immense love of God and his desire to bring others to Jesus in the Eucharist. This modern-day hero is now just one step away from being pronounced the first Saint to live in this millennium!
“To Always Be Close to Jesus”
While so many aspects of Blessed Carlo Acutis’s story have resonated with my heart, a few in particular have granted him A-list status on my litany of Saints. The more I learned about this holy young man, the more I felt called to pray through his intercession for my students. He and they share so many similarities: playing video games, spending time online, and especially navigating the challenges of pursuing holiness amidst a world that is full of distractions and temptations.
When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Blessed Carlo Acutis replied, “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.” He clearly understood that his first priority had to be his relationship with God, and I pray my students will learn that same lesson and I can be a part of that journey with them.When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Blessed Carlo Acutis replied, “To always be close to Jesus, that’s my life plan.” #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Encouragement to Be More Conformed to Christ
To share Jesus with my students, I know that I need to conform my heart to His. Blessed Carlo Acutis reminds me how to accomplish this through his simple yet profound observation:
the more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus.
Amidst the chaos of the past year, I found myself clinging to the Eucharist more than ever. I knew that to successfully navigate my first year of teaching and minister to my students well, I needed to remain close to Jesus, particularly through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
On many Sunday mornings, I exhaustedly fell to my knees at Mass, desperately praying that Jesus fill me with His strength, perseverance, and love as I prepared to begin the new week. And each week, Jesus met me in the Eucharist and bestowed His refreshment and nourishment upon me, just as He promised.
Blessed Carlo’s words and example remind me to draw my strength from Jesus in the Eucharist in order to share His love with those entrusted to me.
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Serve Him in All Circumstances
I am confident that Blessed Carlo Acutis will always be a powerful intercessor for me and my students. His example shows me how to faithfully serve God in all circumstances and how to help those around me encounter Jesus through the witness of my own life.
Throughout the past school year in particular, I was grateful for his prayers and inspiration. As we worked to keep our school community healthy and engaged in learning in the midst of the pandemic, we relied on technology like never before. Blessed Carlo spent years of his life finding ways to use the Internet to bring people closer to Christ, and because of the witness of his life and the way he inspired me this past year, I have come to view him as the patron Saint of online learning.
As I connected with my students both in-person and virtually, I looked to Blessed Carlo for guidance in how to help my students encounter Christ. Driving to school each day, I called upon his intercession to help me live my life in the service of God as he did and to help me lead my students closer to God, however I could encounter them that day.
God Knows What We Need
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Blessed Carlo Acutis was beatified in the midst of this school year that was unlike any other. God knew that all of us needed a patron to intercede for us and an example to look to during this time, so he generously gave the Church the gift of Blessed Carlo. For all of us, he exemplifies how to keep our eyes on Heaven in all that we do, how to find unexpected ways to lead others to God, and how to humbly serve God wherever we are.
Even as many of us return back to a more normal routine at school, my admiration and appreciation for the example of Blessed Carlo Acutis has not diminished. As I get to know my new group of students, I am continuing to entrust them to Jesus through the intercession of Blessed Carlo. As the Church prepares to celebrate his first feast day this October, I am reflecting on the ways that his example helped guide me during this past school year and the ways that he continues to inspire my life and my work.
I am grateful for his intercession as I navigated the challenges of teaching through a pandemic and of helping my students and me grow in faith and knowledge during this unpredictable year. He truly is my patron Saint of online learning, and I thank God for the gift that his witness is to the Church and in my life. He continues to teach me that no matter the circumstances of my life, my priority should always be to stay close to Jesus—especially in the Eucharist—and to help those around me do the same.
Blessed Carlo Acutis, pray for us!
Katie Eilerman is a St. Louis transplant to Kansas City, where she teaches English at a local Catholic high school while studying to earn her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership through Creighton University’s Magis program. She finds God’s love in iced vanilla lattes, walks at the park, and genuine conversation with friends and shares it through liturgical music, contagious laughter, and words of affirmation.