Name: Joe Oliger
Family: Parents, three brothers and three sisters
School: Davenport Central High School
Parish: We belong to St. Paul the Apostle in Davenport and St. Mary Parish in Rock Island, Ill.
What parish activities are you involved in?
I have been an altar server since third grade. I have attended youth group at Sacred Heart (for junior high) and Holy Family (for high school). We used to belong to Holy Family and my friends got me to go to the youth group there.
What volunteer activities do you participate in outside of church?
I belong to the Key Club at Central, which is an organization that is strictly for volunteering and doing service projects. I have volunteered at the Festival of Trees, Vander Veer Park and babysat at parent teacher conferences and in the future I plan to help with Habitat for Humanity. I have also gathered and donated many coats, hats and gloves for the Coats for Kids drive. The Environmental Club at Central goes around and collects all the cans and bottles in the receptacles around the school and then sorts them into larger containers to be returned for money, which goes back to the school. And I babysit a lot for my little sister.
Why is your Catholic faith important to you?
I have been to 10 relatives’ funerals over the years and my Catholic faith has helped me through it. My faith helps me get through the pressures and drama of everyday life. Heaven and hell are realities and it helps me understand what is important and what is not. I have Mass and confession and medals and scapulars that I can get graces from to help me through anything. I can give everything to God and let him worry about it, so I don’t have to. The Catholic Church has the truth, and that is what I want. My little sister has Down syndrome and this has increased my pro-life beliefs, which has increased my faith in God and the Catholic Church. Most of my friends are Catholic, which is nice because we have that in common even though we do not go to a Catholic school.
How do you practice your faith in everyday life?
I go to Mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation and when we go on vacation. I sometimes attend daily Mass with my mom in the summer. I go to confession about once a month; I attend youth group; I go to the youth rallies in Iowa City; I am going to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Kansas City this fall; I pray the rosary and or chaplet every evening with my family. We go to my grandma’s house every Sunday to do a family rosary and chaplet. My mom sets her cell phone alarm to go off at noon so we can remember to pray the Angelus. Our friends, the Coonts, have a rosary every Wednesday evening at their house that we have been going to since I was little, but we don’t seem to go as often now. I think there are too many kids’ activities that get in the way. We pray before meals, even in public, which can be sort of embarrassing.
What do you like best about being Catholic?
I like knowing that God is taking care of me and that I will be with him in heaven someday. I like the huge support group you have when you are Catholic.
What is the most challenging about being Catholic?
Remembering to fast from meat on Fridays at the school cafeteria! My group of friends tries to remind each other. During Lent and Advent we make many sacrifices and those are hard. But as my dad reminds me: they are meant to help us keep our focus on God, because we have to constantly remember why we are doing it.