Gabe Gutiérrez clearly remembers an exciting summer night in Rio de Janeiro, surrounded by 3 million spirited youth at Copacabana Beach, where it embraces the Atlantic Ocean in a 2.5 mile-long sandy crescent. At one end, Sugarloaf Mountain rises straight up from the water’s edge. “And the silence was deafening,” recalled, Gutiérrez, high school youth and young adult minister for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller.
Sarah Strittmatter had a feeling her best friend was in trouble. The Dallas Morning News story about a nurse diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, a patient who died from the illness, didn’t mention the young woman’s name. But the details all pointed to Nina Pham, her BFF (best friend forever) since both were third-graders at St. Rita School in Fort Worth. “I just knew it was Nina,” recalls Strittmatter who graduated from Nolan Catholic High School in 2006 with Pham — the first person to contract Ebola in the United States. “It said she went to church at Our Lady of Fatima and graduated from TCU. I had a feeling it was her. Then I confirmed it.”
When they heard news of Catholic Charities Fort Worth’s efforts to help and house unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S. to escape violence and poverty in their home nations, the principals of the 20 Catholic schools in the diocese and Lisa Griffith, development associate for the Catholic Schools Office, decided to do something to aid in the effort.