Amirault Scholarship winners live out their Catholic values

“I have God on my side, and He is here to help me.”

Madeline Fowler, from North Yarmouth, says that is what her four years attending Cheverus High School in Portland have helped her to realize.

“I feel the closest that I have ever been to God, and I just am really grateful that Cheverus has allowed me to grow in that relationship and really understand what it means to have a loving relationship with God,” she says.

Lorelei Bonney, who is from the town of Poland, says she experienced similar growth in her faith through attending Saint Dominic Academy in Auburn.

“St. Dom’s helped me in many ways: academically, socially, and athletically, but most of all, it has helped me to connect with my faith on a deeper level and learn more about it. I have a deeper understanding of my faith and religion and have been able to connect with God more,” she says.

For their commitment to their faith, for the way they live out their Catholic values, and for their strong academic achievement, Lorelei and Madeline were chosen as the winners of the 2023 Catholic Foundation of Maine Lila Grace Sullivan Amirault Scholarships, each receiving $5,000 to put towards college tuition.

The endowment scholarship fund was established by the late Patrick Amirault in memory of his wife, Lila. Amirault created the fund in gratitude for the care and quality education he received when he attended a Catholic school in Massachusetts and in recognition of his ability to continue his education by working while completing his degrees. The foundation worked with Amirault to develop the endowment to support students with those same values.

Lorelei and Madeline say they were excited to win the scholarship.

“I was honestly kind of surprised because I feel like I’m just like every other person,” says Lorelei. “It will help my parents because they are helping me with college.”

“My initial reaction was that I was very shocked, and then, I was super, super excited because it takes so much stress off of me and my family,” says Madeline. “It was just such great news.”

Like Patrick Amirault, Lorelei and Madeline say they are grateful for the Catholic education they received.

“It’s helped me find my faith. It’s helped me find my friends. It’s helped me connect more with the community. I love this school. St. Dom’s is such a good school,” says Lorelei, who attended St. Dom’s from 4th through 12th grade.

“I just love everything about a Catholic education,” says Madeline, who attended public school prior to going to Cheverus. “My two best friends still go to my old school, and I just talk on and on and on about Cheverus. I’m sure they are totally annoyed by me, but I tell them that I wish you could experience this with me because coming here is truly one of the best things that has happened to me.”

Madeline has an older brother who attended Cheverus ahead of her, and she says when trying to convince her to join him at the school, he mentioned three attributes: academic rigor, growth in faith, and a supportive community, all of which she found to be true. She says Cheverus challenged her academically in a way she hadn’t previously experienced.

“At my public school, I felt I was doing my work, and I was fine, but I felt I could be doing more to get a better education and challenge myself,” she says. “Cheverus is very academically rigorous but totally manageable when you develop time management and a work ethic. So, by the time we go to college, we are more prepared.”

When it comes to community, she says she felt welcomed from the start, even though she says she used to be quite shy.

“The community here is amazing, and you will be scooped in,” she says. “I felt so welcomed into the Cheverus community right away. Even as a freshman, when I barely knew anyone, I was just crashed on by all the love.”

 And as for faith, even though she grew up believing in God and attending Mass, she says through being active in campus ministry, pausing for a daily Examen, and participating in retreats, she was able to develop a greater understanding of herself, which allowed her to more fully connect with God.

“Most of the retreats we go on, we are asked to do a lot of reflecting. That is one of the big things that Cheverus asks us to do,” she says. “I think through reflecting, we gain understanding, and through understanding, we can accept what God has given to us as a path in life.”

Madeline participated in retreats at Cheverus and helped to lead them, something Lorelei did at Saint Dominic Academy as well. Lorelei, who was an altar server at Our Lady of Ransom Church in Mechanic Falls when she was growing up, joined the assistant chaplain program at St. Dom’s.

“I wanted to become an assistant chaplain because I really wanted to help people connect with their faith,” she says.

Lorelei Bonney

One way Lorelei says she did that was by being an active and visible presence during Masses. She was a reader and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

“A lot of people view it as uncool to show your faith, but I think being assistant chaplains, we’ve been able to show people that it’s not,” she says.

Lorelei also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at the Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul in Lewiston, which she started attending with her boyfriend.

“He has a really strong faith foundation and so does his mother, and we started to go to Mass together as a family — with his family and my family. We all meet on Sunday,” she says.

Lorelei says she loves attending Mass and participating in it.

“I cherish it,” she says. “It’s my way of connecting with my Creator. He made me, and I just want to be able to love Him the same way that He loves me.”

Lorelei says she is especially grateful for the opportunity to serve as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.

 “I feel like that is the biggest part of Mass. It is so important because that is when you are receiving the body of Christ and the blood of Christ,” she says. “It is so magical to me. I think it is so special to be able to help out at that part of Mass because, in some people’s faces, you can see the joy when they receive the Eucharist. I love it. It’s exciting to me.”

In addition to serving as an assistant chaplain, Lorelei was class president her sophomore year, treasurer of the Student Senate her senior year, served as a junior volunteer at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, and volunteered with the middle school ski team.

“I was pretty much a full-time coach for them, and I ran jackets. I would stuff all the jackets in a backpack and bring them down to the bottom of the mountain for the kids, give them a bit of a pointer, then go up with them, watch their runs, and do it all again. I loved it,” she says.

 Lorelei used to ski competitively, but she says she gave it up after she hurt her knee. She was, however, a member of the field hockey and tennis teams, with field hockey being her favorite.

“I love field hockey. I always will. It’s a fun sport to watch and play,” she says.

Lorelei says she got involved in field hockey at the recommendation of her physical therapist. She was born with a brachial plexus injury, and at birth, she could not move her left arm. She has been going to physical therapy since she was two weeks old, and as a result, she estimates her arm now has 90% mobility.

The support she received led to her career aspiration. She will soon be entering a six-year doctorate of physical therapy program at Husson University in Bangor.

“I love helping others, so I just feel like this is my calling. This is what I should be doing,” Lorelei says.

 She says she especially would like to work with children.

“I feel like I will really know how to connect with children because I have been in their shoes. I know what you’re supposed to do. And I love kids,” she says.

Lorelei says it will be difficult to say goodbye to the many friends she made at St. Dom’s, but she feels ready for college life.

“Academically, I feel like I’m prepared,” she says. “St. Dom’s has given me a good work ethic, and I think it has really given me good skills to get through college.”

While Lorelei will be attending an in-state college, Madeline plans to study elementary education at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. She says she discovered a love for teaching while helping to care for her brother, Elijah, who is 10 years younger than she is.

“I spent every living moment with him and played with him, and then, as he got older, I was helping him learn. I would read books to him, and I would try to teach him things. It was before I even thought about being a teacher, but it was so fascinating to me,” she says. “I really think educators will shape the future generations, and I think that is a responsibility I would love to take on.”

Madeline says she has had a drive to help people since a young age. She says it is something that her parents instilled in her and something that Cheverus helped to take hold.

“I just have really grown as a person, really grown to, I think, embody the Catholic values of just being really loving and being committed to justice,” she says. “Not that I didn’t do them before, but I do them a little bit more effectively and more actively now. I’m actively encountering the people in my life, and the people in my community, and people outside of my community, just trying to touch as many people as I can.”

She says it comes down to caring for one another.

“To create a great community, you have to take into consideration the kindness that you need to show people, the love that you need to show people, the understanding that you need to show people, and the compassion that you need to show people,” she says.

Madeline has shown that kindness and compassion through many of the service projects in which she has been involved or which she helped to found. She was president of the school’s Best Buddies chapter, an organization that promotes friendships with individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Madeline truly embraces the mission of inclusion and friendship and became an inspiring leader in that organization as president, helping it to become one of the fastest-growing student groups on campus,” says Bethany Hanley, Cheverus’ former admissions director.

Madeline was also a member of the Key Club, which organizes the school’s Thanksgiving turkey drive each year. And she and her brother, Marshall, who is two years her senior, helped to organize a bottle drive for the Dempsey Center, which offers care to people impacted by cancer. The siblings also started an annual Comfy Clothes Drive.

“We collect sweatshirts, jackets, sweatpants, and just warm clothes, and then, we donate them to the Preble Street Teen Center for the winter. We’ve done that for three years. I co-founded it with my older brother during my sophomore year, and we’ve done it every year since, and I hope that my brother [Jack], who is a sophomore, will continue it in the following years because I think it really makes a difference,” Madeline says. “One thing we were learning about in theology this year is the distribution of earthly goods. It’s basically that before anyone should live in excess, everyone should have their basic needs met. That is something I completely agree with.”

Like Lorelei, Madeline was also active in sports, playing softball and field hockey, with field hockey as her favorite. She was also the school’s mascot, Stanley the Stag, and thanks to her, Stanley has his own Instagram page.

Madeline believes the values Cheverus instills in its students will serve her well in the future.

“I think, overall as people, we are just a very loving group, and I think we’ll go on to spread that love into the world wherever we go,” she says.

Lorelei says she, too, plans to continue to embrace her Catholic values and to build her faith life. She has no doubts she will remain active during her college years and beyond.

“I think faith will always be a part of my life,” she says. “I just love it.”

The Catholic Foundation of Maine is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, managing 145 endowments. Endowments at CFM are open to additional gifts at any time, and your contributions are fully tax deductible. Funds contributed to any endowment with CFM are invested responsibly, for the long term, in Catholic-screened instruments.