Updated: Aug 8
It is with pride and joy I present to you the next member of Team Do Good, the mighty Sarah Cimino. I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate Sarah here via Tampa Bless and Team Do Good. Her willingness to participate in this feature and to provide feedback is highly appreciated. And now, without further ado...
Name: Sarah Cimino
Place of birth: Nashville, TN
Currently reside: Tampa, FL
Heritage: I am a fun mix of Spanish, Sicilian, and Cajun American with a tiny bit of Irish in me.
Alma Mater: I am a graduate of Christ the King Catholic School, H. B. Plant High School, and the University of Florida.
Occupation: Program Director for Parish Outreach with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS)
Activities you organized or participated in related to helping others and uplifting humanity? I realize this is an uncomfortable question to answer because it feels self-promotional, yet it's important to share so to inspire others:
I was 15 years old when my parents let me go to Haiti for the first time. That experience changed my life. I ended up serving on four mission trips to Ste. Suzanne, Haiti with my home parish, Christ the King. After my first trip to Haiti, I co-founded Teens for Haiti, a 503(c)3 charity under Renew Haiti, Inc. We fundraised for different projects for the people of Ste. Suzanne which totaled about $50,000 over a span of three years. When I went off to college, I knew I wanted to be involved in the Catholic Newman Center so as to be surrounded by people who shared my faith and wanted to serve the Kingdom of God. During my time at UF, Catholic Gators became my family. I served this community by leading bible studies and mentoring young women to be disciples of Jesus Christ. It was one of the greatest joys of my time in college.
The Tampa Bless 12
1) Favorite pastime or hobby? Why? Please explain.
Anything outside. Whether it is soaking up some sunshine on the beach, going on a hike, or slacklining (a newer hobby I am trying). I love to be outside.
2) Favorite sport, team, or player? If not into sports, your favorite musician or album? Or answer one of each if you’d like or any combo. Please explain why for any one or more of the questions you answered.
My favorite musician is Ben Rector. He writes his own music so it is real and raw about his experiences, his family, his struggles, and his joys. I haven’t seen him perform live yet, but I would love to one day!
3) Favorite movie? Why? Please explain.
The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan. I grew up with this movie on repeat and can quote almost every line.
4) Favorite place (country, city, town, etc…) you have visited and why?
Rome, Italy! I love Rome because everywhere you go, you walk in the footsteps of the saints and martyrs. Plus I love the food, the history, and the coffee.
5) Last meal? You could have anything, what is it? Why? Please explain.
Either my father’s homemade meatballs and spaghetti sauce or my mother’s crawfish etouffee. Both of these meals are incredibly delicious and remind me of home.
6) Three activities or routines you would highly recommend? Please explain your reasoning for each.
1. Pray every day sometime before noon. In order to get in my holy hour or any amount of prayer, it has to happen in the morning for me. Once it hits the afternoon, the day flies and it’s over before I know it.
2. Go to confession once every two to three weeks. I find that when I get in a funk or I am not being as charitable as I could be, it is usually towards the end of that two to three-week time period. The stain of sin and selfishness infects all aspects of life. When I start to notice that, I know I need to go be made clean again by the mercy of Christ.
3. Call your friends. I make it a point to call at least one friend a week, even if it is a short call. It is worth it every time. We need community and friends who will love us well and hold us accountable to living authentic lives of heroic virtue.
7) A) Personality trait you highly value? Why? Please explain. B) The personality trait you highly dislike? Why? Please explain.
A. Discipline. It is in living a life that is disciplined that we can live in freedom. I have found that building good habits requires lots of discipline. Whether it is a daily holy hour, eating healthy, working out, reading, or even my work, I need to be disciplined to live with integrity and do the things I told the Lord I would do. I frequently find myself failing in this category but I admire those who live it well. Discipline allows us to not be slaves to our emotions or desires, but rather helps us to use our God-given intellect to form our will into God’s will, therefore allowing us to choose the greatest good that glorifies the Lord.
B. Selfishness. We live in a culture that tells us constantly that it is all about you, what you want, and what you need. Social media plays a huge role in this. Anytime I am scrolling I am reminded of how broken this world is. When we get wrapped up in the culture of darkness, we stop looking outward and focus only on ourselves. We find ourselves asking questions such as: Should I post this so that people think this or that of me? Should I use that filter so that people know that I support this cause? What will other people think if I take this job, or date this person, or watch this show? Suddenly, everything we do is all about us and our image! It is easy to be selfish, but we are not made to live this way. St. Pope John Paul II wrote, “Man finds himself only by making a sincere gift of himself to others” (Gaudium et Spes 24). This is what we are made for! We are made to be a gift and to receive others as a gift. There is no room for selfishness in making a gift of yourself.
8) Favorite thinker (author, philosopher, theologian, etc…)? Why? Please explain. And what is your favorite piece of advice, quote, or text from them or in general? Why? Please explain.
St. Therese of Lisieux has been a friend of mine for many years. She was a young nun from France who, in her littleness, had the greatest confidence in our Heavenly Father. She is the patroness of missionaries even though she never left her cloister. She wanted to be a great missionary for the Lord, traveling, and spreading the Gospel, but God had other plans for her. She became a missionary with her prayers. In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, she wrote about something she called “the little way” as a way to heaven for the little souls, the child-like. She wanted to be a great saint like Teresa of Avila, but she knew she wasn’t called to that life. She was called to be authentically herself, which was still a saint! She wrote, “It pleases Him to create great Saints, who may be compared with the lilies or the rose; but He has also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets, nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them. The happier they are to be as He wills, the more perfect they are.” I love St. Therese because of how happy she was to be authentically herself! She also said this about prayer which is a good reminder to me when I overthink or over-complicate the Lord, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” Therese’s “little way” can be summed up in doing little things that glorify the Lord with great joy. I pray that I can learn from her how to let the Lord transform my ordinary life into something extraordinary for His Kingdom.
9) Biggest influence in your life or a top one, and what was it about them that really stood out?
There are so many people who have influenced me and shaped who I am. My parents, mentors, missionaries, and friends all come to mind, but the two women that I mentored in college are the ones who are on my heart in this moment. Maria and Tina both went to UF and both joined my bible study their freshman year. For the next three years, I had a front-row seat to watching the Lord work in their heart and seeing them become incredible women. Even though I mentored them, they are the ones who taught me so much about life, prayer, friendship, and charity. The three of us met weekly to pray and talk about how to live as a disciple of Christ, and throughout all of college, there isn’t anything that compares to the impact that these meetings had on me. Maria and Tina taught me what true friendship looks like. They taught me what it means to build habits that glorify the Lord. They taught me how to suffer well and offer everything to the Lord. They taught me how to be authentically myself, and how I am a gift to others. I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the influence of these two women in my life.
10) If there is one thing you could change in the world, what would it be?
I would make it so that kids couldn’t have cell phones, or at least smartphones, until they are 18 years old. Technology has changed our world, some of it for the better, but not all. Kids today are getting smartphones at a young age, and they are growing up addicted to the phone, and not learning how to have real face-to-face conversations. Relationships are one of the things that make us human and children are growing up not knowing how to build relationships! We have forgotten how to befriend our neighbors, how to invite people into our homes, and how to build relationships with those around us because we are hooked to a screen. Smartphones and social media keep us living in the virtual world when there is a beautiful (and sometimes messy) reality that we are made to live in. If children could grow up without phones, I think the world would be a different place. It would change our families, our neighborhood, and our parishes. It would allow for real conversations with real people, and hopefully the recognition of Christ in the other. For God only exists in reality, so when we live in reality, we encounter Him.
11) Where did your desire to help others and uplift humanity come from? Please explain.
When I went to Haiti for the first time, I encountered true physical poverty and my own spiritual poverty. I was struck by the joy of the poor, and my eyes were opened to the reality of the Body of Christ being made up of many parts but united in Christ. I was reminded of this during my freshman year of college when I went to a Catholic conference called SEEK2015 hosted by FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) in Nashville, TN. At SEEK2015 I witnessed the joy of 10,000 college students who loved the Lord and wanted to live out their faith on their college campus. The Body of Christ again became more real to me. I understood more deeply that every person has an eternal soul, and their soul will exist in one of two places for all of eternity. This inspired an urgency within me to share Christ with others so that each soul would know that they are known, loved, and cared for by Our Heavenly Father.
12) What are you working on now and how can people get involved?
Currently, I serve as a Program Director for Parish Outreach with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). The mission of FOCUS is to know Jesus Christ and fulfill His Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20). This initiative of Parish Outreach is relatively new for FOCUS, so my team and I are still learning how to best serve the American parish. My role as a Program Director is to serve the full-time Parish Missionaries that work at 8 parishes across the country. These Parish Missionaries primarily work to invite others into a life of discipleship with Christ. Discipleship is lived out through an intimate relationship with Jesus that impels us to go out and share the Gospel in the family, the parish, and the workplace. Parish Outreach is an important part of what we do, but sending missionaries to college campuses is our primary mission. For the past two years, I served as a campus missionary with FOCUS at the University of Pittsburgh. While at Pitt, I worked with a team, led Bible studies, mentored young women, and invited students into a life of discipleship with Jesus. FOCUS has more than 730 missionaries serving on 164 campuses and 8 parishes across the U.S. and Europe. By the end of 2020, FOCUS expects, God willing, to have 75,000 students transitioned into many of America’s 17,000+ Catholic parishes, hence our new focus on parish life! We hope to reignite the Church by evangelizing, not only the college campus but the parish as well. FOCUS exists because of the grace of the Holy Spirit and the generosity of donors! People can get involved by supporting an individual missionary or supporting FOCUS on a national level. All missionaries and many other positions in FOCUS, including mine, fundraise their entire salary. We invite others to join our support team prayerfully and financially by becoming Mission Partners. Join the tens of thousands of people across the U.S. that currently support FOCUS missionaries, thus making this mission to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission a reality! Visit focus.org to learn more. If you would like to support me or learn more about FOCUS, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for your time Sarah and for all that you do. The place we live in is that much better because of you. I hope that this feature has served to inspire you, as well as successfully celebrate those that help others and uplift humanity.
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