Mary Claire Stukenborg is the youngest student ever to have joined the St. Francis of Assisi social justice group, the Committee on Conscience. She also is the youngest student ever to have been accepted by the group as a regular provider of service at Catholic Charities of Louisville and Kentucky Refugee Ministries. She began her service career at St. Francis in second grade and at Catholic Charities in the third grade!

Because of her great maturity and precocious ability to hear God’s call for us to act with compassion, Mary Claire was drawn to work with refugees at an early age. The lives she touches have truly been changed, and she will quickly tell you that her life has been changed as well.

For the past six years, Mary Claire has taught English to refugees from over 21 different countries, regions and territories. Her meaningful work has allowed these refugees to acclimate to a new country, to gain citizenship, and to learn that young people in this country have generous hearts and care deeply about them. The example that Mary Claire has set is inspiring. She has helped others understand that kindness is a source of power and that practicing compassion will empower and strengthen the soul.

Mary Claire has learned in the most sincere and intimate fashion the truth that lies in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: It is in giving that we receive. Christ’s compassion and profound love is reflected in Mary Claire’s actions. Those of us here at Catholic Charities are certain her experiences will open the doors to a blessed and beautiful future.