By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

Collin Sceski, 19, a member of Sacred Heart Parish, Oxford, recently won a $1,500 scholarship that will come in handy as he begins his studies at Villanova University. It was the grand prize in an essay contest for teens sponsored by Ascension Press, and the topic was Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

When he enters the College of Nursing at Villanova it will be his first formal classroom experience in his entire life. Sceski, the second of the seven children of Renee and John Sceski, has been home-schooled for the last 12 years, as are the other children in the family. His mother is the primary teacher, utilizing various programs available for home-schoolers.

In home schooling you work at your own pace, which is nice, “but you have to be self-motivated,” he said.

Socialization, something which is often brought up when home schooling is mentioned, was not a problem.

“We have close friends in home schooling we don’t see every day, but it makes a tighter-knitted family,” he said, and he was also involved with youth groups and sports. For example, Sceski played on the Oxford High School varsity football team, although he did not attend the school, and this played into his award-winning essay.

“It takes real men to be leaders,” he wrote. “In a society where popularity overrides virtue, real men are sometimes hard to find.”

On the field, he would have followed the team leaders “through dirt, snow and rain, against the toughest opponents and the bitterest defeats,” but he did not approve of their off-field moral perspective and some of their conduct.

“I knew that God was calling me to a deeper manhood than their worldly lives possessed,” he wrote. “This essay is about the search for true manhood in today’s society. Perhaps the greatest aid in my search for true manhood is the Theology of the Body.”

Entering the contest he had an advantage in that his home schooling had included extensive reading of Theology of the Body, including a course written by Ascension Press, and this was reinforced through retreats and youth conferences.

A former altar server at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Coatesville and at Sacred Heart, he volunteers with the Blue Knights and the Catholic boys club, following the example of his parents who both have volunteered for parish youth groups.

His interest in nursing developed through a part-time job working as a dietary aide at Ware Presbyterian Senior Village in Oxford, a facility that provides independent living units through skilled nursing care.

“It really opened my eyes to the nursing field,” he said.

With that said, it may not be his ultimate vocational choice.

Through Theology of the Body, “I see myself on a mission, a mission instituted by Christ,” he wrote. “It’s not easy, in fact it is a tremendous struggle, but it is a struggle that is worthwhile … true manhood is the only way to be a leader. One day I’ll lead a family or a parish, and unlike my football captains, I won’t walk away when the coach (God) gives an order or skip any duty in life. Theology of the Body made me see myself as a young man called to be a leader for Christ.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.