Joseph Stillwell of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, takes a photo May 19 with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., at the NJ Catholic Youth Rally. Stillwell is the recipient of the Most Reverend David M. O’Connell Service Scholarship and will attend The Catholic University of America in the fall.  Hal Brown photo
Joseph Stillwell of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, takes a photo May 19 with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., at the NJ Catholic Youth Rally. Stillwell is the recipient of the Most Reverend David M. O’Connell Service Scholarship and will attend The Catholic University of America in the fall.  Hal Brown photo

By Jennifer Mauro | Managing Editor

Joseph Stillwell knows exactly where he will be on Aug. 26 – sitting in class as an incoming freshman at The Catholic University of America, Washington.

“When opportunity presents itself – seize it. Never let it go,” said Stillwell, this year’s recipient of the Most Reverend David M. O’Connell Service Scholarship.

The scholarship, established in 2010, is a full-tuition, four-year scholarship awarded by CUA to one student from the Diocese who has shown a commitment to service in their school, parish and community. It honors Bishop O’Connell’s 12-year tenure as president of CUA, a post he held from 1998 to 2010.

Stillwell, a parishioner in Our Lady of Sorrow-St. Anthony, Hamilton, aims to study political science and American history at the university. His goal is to one day teach and then possibly enter political office.

“I want to contribute back to society,” Stillwell said, explaining that he wants his goals to fall in line with Catholic social teaching. “I want to try to craft public policies that benefit all Americans, not just a select few.”

Stillwell was among the nearly 3,000 young Catholics and their families who attended the May 19 NJ Catholic Youth Rally at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson. He says it was uplifting to see the number of young people who attended the event.

“It really made me feel optimistic, because we see the decline in Mass attendance with youth,” he said. “This was a very good sign for the future of the Catholic Church. I hope we see more people of youth exercising their faith.”

Practicing his faith is something Stillwell is looking forward to continuing in Washington at the Basilica. He explained that earlier this year, he got to tour the university campus. “A lot of kids were looking at the campus, saying, ‘Look at this!’” Though he admits to being in awe, too, he spent much of his time in the church, the crypt and main altar area because, “It was just breathtaking.”