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Religious Education and Youth Ministry

LifeGuides are a team of resident parishioners, college students, and confirmed high school students who are committed to assisting the youth of the St. Tom’s parish. They are instrumental in planning, organizing, and implementing the activities for the youth. The individuals involved in LifeGuides share their faith through service projects, retreats, and social events.

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Meet This Year’s Interns


Rachel Huemmer

Youth Ministry Coordinator

Year: Junior

Major: Strategy & Organizational Management

About Me: I grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. Throughout high school, I was very involved in the Youth Ministry program at my home parish and got to attend retreats such as Destination Jesus, the Call, Antioch, and NCYC! This really helped jumpstart my faith and it’s my goal to share that with others. Among other various ministries at St. Tom’s, I got involved with LifeGuides my freshman year, teaching 3 and 4 year olds. Last year I got to help with the Youth Ministry program and absolutely loved it! I’m so excited to be serving as the coordinator this year. I can’t wait to encounter Christ with some wonderful young adults- all while having fun!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I love this verse because it shows how God can work even in our brokenness!


Jessica Devine

Religious Education Coordinator

Year: Junior

Major: Public Health

About Me: I spent most of my childhood in Avon, Indiana. I’m passionate about education, health, and living a joy-filled life that reflects Christ. My passion for teaching started with the education department at the Indianapolis Zoo while I was in high school. I came to Purdue excited to join the amazing community of St. Tom’s I’d heard so much about. While at church the very first weekend, I saw a flyer and felt an inexplicable calling to the LifeGuides callout. I didn’t have any idea what LifeGuides was, but there was no doubt in my mind God was calling me there. I offered to teach whatever grade needed me, and taught 5th grade my freshmen year. As a sophomore I coordinated the entire religious education program. I love every moment I get to spend inspiring our volunteer catechists or interacting with the kids to whom we minister. In addition to my time with LifeGuides I’ve been a coordinator for new student outreach at St. Tom’s and I’ve staffed the Confirmation retreat the last two years. I’m excited to see where God leads me next, and the religious education program through me.

Favorite Bible Verse: “Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged, do not be afraid, for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” – Joshua 1:9

God says this to Joshua as Joshua is preparing the Israelites to cross the Jordan to get to the Promised Land. This is my favorite verse because it reminds me to never let fears stop me from pursuing God’s plan for me. Despite the harsh journey and Moses’s death just beforehand, the work of God continued uninterrupted, and no matter what setbacks we encounter, so it is the same for us today.


Erin Bodenbach

LifeGuides Secretary

Year: Sophomore

Major: Neurobiology & Physiology

About Me: As the only child to two loving parents, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Coming from two devout Catholic families, a parochial education was always something that my parents valued and wanted to provide. As a result, I attended a Catholic grade school and continued my education at a Catholic high school. In high school, my faith grew immensely. Despite several hardships, I was able to grow closer to God. Suffering allowed me to deepen my trust in God and remember that it is all part of His plan. Coming to Purdue, I knew that I wanted to continue in my faith journey by being active in the St. Tom’s community. Joining LifeGuides last fall as the LifeGuides Secretary was an amazing opportunity! I was able to continue working on my own faith while making an impact on the lives of young children. I am excited to be returning this fall, and I hope to continue my growth in faith and in my leadership skills.

Favorite Bible Verse: Favorite Scripture Quote:
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

When I read this verse, it reminds me that there is a greater purpose to all our trials and tribulations. It is through our suffering that we are able to grow in strength and deepen our faith.


Lisa Goelzhauser

Elementary School Intern

Year: Senior

Major: Mechanical Engineering Technology

About Me: I’m from Cibolo, Texas. I grew up in a military family so I’ve lived in Ohio, Massachusetts, Guam, Delaware, and then Texas.
Throughout high school I participated in Teen ACTS retreats, Steubenville South youth conferences and Steubenville LEAD. I came to Purdue looking for ways to get involved at St. Tom’s. I joined the Lifeguides program my sophomore year and love the amazing impact that we have on small children. I taught First Grade my sophomore year and then First Communion my junior year. I’m so excited to see what this upcoming Lifeguide year brings!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Set before you are fire and water. To whichever you choose, stretch out your hand.” – Sirach 15:15

This verse was actually a theme on one of my high school retreats and I’ve always loved it. Everyday we have to make choices. Sometimes between good or bad, right or wrong, good or better, bad or worse, and more. But, it is always important to have God with you throughout these choices, no matter how small.


Mitchell Struewing

Middle School Intern

Year: Sophomore

Major: Pharmacy

About Me: I am from the eastside of Indianapolis, Indiana where I grew up with my two younger siblings and loving parents. I grew up volunteering a lot with my dad at St. Vincent de Paul, the Knight’s of Columbus, and our church’s summer festival. I got involved in St. Tom’s playing cello in the 9 AM choir and teaching 4th grade and 7th grade, a semester each. My favorite thing about St. Tom’s and Purdue has been getting to make so many new, amazing friendships (and I cannot wait to make more). Some fun facts about me: I have an obsession with grapes and they are my go-to snack all day, every day. I also crave a nice cup of tea quite often (hot or iced; sweet or unsweet). I love listening to new music and then searching YouTube for instrumental covers (look up Brooklyn Duo, they are my favorite). I want to get to know you and see what all we have in common, so whenever you see me feel free to stop and chat! I want for us all to grow not only in our friendships, but especially in our faith, together through LifeGuides. Let’s have a great year!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

This verse reminds me to hang in there even when times are rough. Life may be full of suffering, uncertainties, and temptation, but in the end God has a plan and a glorious future for us.


Jenny Zehner

Confirmation Intern

Year: Senior

Major: Animal Sciences

About Me: For the first eight years of my life, my three sisters and I lived in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, where my parents did mission work for an evangelical protestant organization. Since then I have lived in Roachdale, IN in a big brick farm house with a big vegetable garden and a variety of animals. When I was in 8th grade, my family first visited a Catholic Church. I joined the Church about a year later as a high school freshman. I am so grateful God lead me to the Church and for all the people and events that have been part of the journey. I am currently studying Animal Sciences with minors in Entomology and Spanish. I plan to have a career in rural community development. I am so excited to be the intern for St. Tom’s confirmation classes. I hope and pray that each of the students fall in love with our Lord during this time and freely choose to follow His will through participation in the sacrament/gift of confirmation.

Favorite Bible Verse: Luke 1:38 “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” – Luke 1:38

This verse is the pivotal point of salvation history. Through Mary, God brings our savior, Jesus Christ into the word when she surrenders to His will. This is the beginning of Mary’s motherhood and our adoption. This verse is also a powerful prayer and meditation. May we always surrender to the Divine Will, even if it means some suffering as it did for Mary.


Marie Lenart

Special Education Intern

Year: Sophomore

Major: Neurobiology and Physiology

About Me: I was born in Dyer, Indiana but grew up in a small town called Seymour in Indiana. In high school I was very involved in my church by being a youth leader, going on two mission trips, and being a special education teacher in our own program. When I came to Purdue, I was very quiet, and set on working towards my goal of medical school. After a semester at Purdue, I became involved in St.Tom’s. I taught H.D.R.E. (a post-confirmation course) and then accepted the position as special education intern. In my position as an intern here, I look forward to expanding the special education program by bringing in new students, and teachers, and making it even more inclusive. I am so excited to let the Holy Spirit guide me in establishing a good foundation for this program!

Favorite Bible Verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

This is my favorite verse because it is telling us to let go and let God. Sometimes our path in life doesn’t go as we thought it would, or we hit a bump in the road. We must remember to do all things through Christ and trust in him, and our life will follow as he has planned for us.