COLUMBIA — It would probably take two people to live the active life of high school senior, Daniel Hudacko, parishioner of Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia. Not only is Hudacko a star football player for Irmo High School varsity team (chosen to play in the Shrine Ball as a state all-star player), but he also is the co-producer of the school’s live broadcast news show called “Silver Screen.”
“Daniel is what we all hope our kids will become. His leadership and character is what defined him as an excellent team player and student,” said head varsity football coach Bob Hanna. “He epitomized what a high school athlete should be and is a good leader and role model for other students.”
Fortunately for the parish and the diocese, this multitalented youth is equally as active in his work with the church. One of Hudacko’s favorite ministries in the parish is the youth bible study that he leads at his home on Tuesday nights. He prepares the lesson and facilitates the discussions for the night for a large group of youth. Hudacko sees a great need for this type of evangelization/education.
“I meet so many teens who do not know their Catholic faith, so they believe whatever is said even if it is not true. We need to change religious education so young people especially those in the South (where Catholics are in the minority) can learn to defend their faith as we are called to do in 1 Peter 3:15,” he explained.
This youth bible study has been so fruitful that Catholic teens frequently invited friends from other faiths or those who are searching for God. A couple of non-Catholic guests decided to continue with RCIA after attending the bible study and will be coming into the Catholic Church this Easter. One of the converts is Hudacko’s girl friend, Andrea Roubuck, who despite some opposition from her family has bravely chartered a different religious path for herself.
As her sponsor, Hudacko deeply regretted that he could not attend her recent Rite of Election ceremony held at Corpus Christi Church in Lexington on March 8 because of a conflict he had as a senior member of the Diocesan Youth Evangelization (E) Team. There was a youth conference at White Oak the same weekend, and he was an integral part of the program.
Hudacko has been a valuable asset to the E team because their activities often involve skits that are used to illustrate a faith lesson. As a member of Group Therapy, his school’s lead acting club, Hudacko has developed into a gifted actor who performs with passion and believability. He makes the message linger in their memories, and the participants always seem to remember his skit.
“When I think of Daniel, the first thing that comes to mind is spiritual jock. He is a great athlete, yet he is not afraid to go out and be a witness to his faith. He lives his faith, not just on Sunday or during youth group but everywhere. It’s in his bones,” said Donna Tomasini, director of Religious Education at Our Lady of the Hills.
She admires Hudacko, who also serves on the Parish Council as the youth representative and is an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist
Some of his other activities include moderator for the Midland Youth Advocacy Board and Small group leader for Search, a diocesan youth retreat. Despite his hectic schedule, he also tries to make time for Home Work’s one-day events. He describes the work as humbling, yet very honorable.
“When you meet the people that you are helping, it is a very gratifying experience to know that you are really making a difference in someone’s life,” he said.
He explained that it is the type of servant Christ has called everyone to be.
Being such a visible witness does have its challenges, but Hudacko considers it part of the course.
“Although I am pretty social with a variety of friends, it still hurts to be excluded from certain things, but Jesus never said it was going to be easy,” said the resolute youth.
But he can testify it is not impossible with God’s grace.
Hudacko attributes his strong faith to his parents who he said have always trusted God and have a peace about them even during the difficult times. His seven siblings have also helped to mold his life, especially his older brother Steve, who used to run the bible study groups from the family home and is now attending Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and remains very active in the church.
“Mother Teresa once said, ‘We should be the change you want to see in the world,’ and that is my motto. The youth have so many complaints about the world and do nothing, yet we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Hudacko said.
He sees Christian life as doing what is right as much as not doing what is wrong.