GREENVILLE — It’s enough to make a grown person cry. Contemplating the life of Heather K. LaDue through the prism of our own helter-skelter existences can do that.
LaDue is not only accomplished, driven and organized, but she does it all with a smile and an easiness about her that belies the constant activity of her days – and she is only 17 years old.
Heather LaDue is, first of all, an accomplished pupil; she’s an honors student and a commended Merit Scholar, which places her in the top 5 percent of all high school students in the nation. She’s an athlete, a soccer player and an All-State runner on the St. Joseph’s Catholic School championship cross-country team. Those feats alone would be enough to make her a star on campus, but there’s more, much more.
She is an accomplished horsewoman, training her leased thoroughbred and jumping him in shows and equestrian competitions. Most importantly to her, she is a founding member of the campus ministry program at St. Joe’s and active in her parish, St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville. She says that her Catholic faith “is the center of my life,” and that personal philosophy is what endears her to, and impresses, her close friends.
“Heather continually amazes me,” said Sarah Kraus, 17, of St. Mary Magdalene. “She is on fire for Christ and devotes a large part of her time helping others grow in their faith.”
LaDue, the daughter of Carolyn and Robert LaDue, is a peer minister in the LifeTeen movement at her church, a role that has her representing other youth to the parish-at-large, forming liaisons with adult volunteers and ministers and mentoring younger teenagers. She admits that her peer ministry is time-consuming, but she’s not complaining.
“It takes up a lot of my time, but I wanted to be a peer minister. I’ve gotten a lot out of LifeTeen and wanted to give back,” she said.
LifeTeen is a parish-based ministry for high school students that gets them actively involved in liturgy and religious education. Members participate in a special Mass every week, usually on Sunday evening, and plan a whole social and religious discussion and meal around it. It has achieved fame nationwide because of its success at involving teenagers in the church.
Heather LaDue has achieved a measure of fame also. Her coach and Advanced Placement calculus teacher, George Carr, said that the teen is “exceptionally talented and driven.”
“If anyone in a race is in front or in back of her, Heather will beat them,” Carr said.
LaDue might also save them. According to Jake Smith, a fellow senior at SJCS, Heather LaDue fills many roles in her family, school and parish, none of which is as important as that of “servant of God.”
“Heather is instrumental in bringing souls to Christ through her enthusiasm, her joy and her love of God,” Smith said.
Heather LaDue is heading for college, hoping for Notre Dame, and planning to continue her active lifestyle and her commitment to Catholicism. Her long-term future may include youth ministry. Whatever she does, the rest of us can hope only to look on in wonder.