Close to her heart, attached to a necklace, Bridget Moreira wears a small leadership medal which she received after participating in a retreat this year for students at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park. Engraved on one side of the medal is a quote from the school’s patron saint, St. John Bosco: “It is enough that you are young, for me to love you.”
Those words remind Moreira of how her school’s teachers embody the spirit of St. John Bosco. She noted how the saint “is known as a friend of the young and the poor. The teachers here are small samples of Don Bosco. They help students feel more at home. They say, ‘Yes, I can help you,’ because they care.”
Moreira, a member of Cristo Rey’s class of 2015 and a leader on the school’s youth ministry team, went to two retreats this past year: “One as a participant. I learned and listened,” she said, adding, “(and) one as a leader. Being a leader, I had an opportunity to be an example to other people, and transfer the love of God to others.”
Ana Chapa, Cristo Rey’s assistant principal for student life, noted, “She really is a person of prayer and a woman of God. She’s really striving to be a woman of faith.”
Moreira, whose mother was born in Mexico and whose father was born in El Salvador, is a parishioner of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Riverdale Park, where she participates in and helps coordinate activities for the youth group. She also volunteers at her parish as a receptionist and helps clean the inside of the church.
Her faith is a source of strength for Moreira, who said she knows that whatever challenges she might face in life, “I’ll have Jesus at my side. Basically, my faith helps me pursue my goals. It makes me a happier person.”
As a participant in Cristo Rey’s Corporate Work Study Program, Moreira has worked for four years at the Miller & Long Concrete Construction Company in Bethesda, doing computer work and helping with filing. Along the way, she’s learned things about building construction. “I’ve learned how to read blueprints. There you go!” she said, smiling.
That work experience has also taught her how to express herself confidently, and how to work in a professional environment, including gaining valuable lessons about time management, she said. “I feel like I’m more advanced than my classmates I left behind in eighth grade,” Moreira added. “…Balancing work and school – that has helped out. That’s what I’ll be doing in college.”
Moreira will be attending Trinity Washington University this fall, where she plans to major in criminal justice and forensic science. She will also participate in the Army-ROTC program. Some day, she wants to be a police officer. “My dream job is to be a crime scene detective,” she said.
This summer, Moreira hopes to participate in Salesian youth movement activities led by the religious community that co-sponsors Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School along with the Archdiocese of Washington. “Once you’re a Salesian, you can’t go back,” she said, smiling. Holding her St. John Bosco medal in her hand, Moreira said she wants to participate in youth conferences and help lead retreats, to help other young people, just like she has been helped at Cristo Rey.
“Teens go through so much. I don’t want them to feel alone. I want them to feel loved and cared for,” she said.