It’s safe to say when Sadie Shields wakes up in the morning, the first thing she does is to choose joy!
She is a beautiful testament to the Greatest Commandment that is written in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength….”
Through her work in Catholic school, her voice for the voiceless, and her energy she gives to young Catholics in West Virginia, Shields gives life to her faith. “Ms. Shields is a constant reminder for me that true joy can be found in living the faith,” said Fr. Douglas Ondeck, of St. Patrick Church in Weston.
Shields attends St. Patrick’s, and she works as the gym teacher, preschool aide, and after school program director for the parish school.
“My Catholic faith is such a huge part of me, my parents made sure the teachings and values of the Church were instilled in us,” she said. “Growing up Catholic we were encouraged to live our faith. We were constantly reminded that God instilled great gifts in each of us that we are to share.”
When Sadie Shields was 13, her parents moved their family from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to a 107-acre farm in Doddridge County. She said it was a labor of love by the whole family to bring their home and property to its glory.
“The farm had been abandoned – there was no heating, no plumbing, and no electric. We spent years renovating it to make it amazing,” she said. “It’s a great place to grow up.”
The family raised Scottish Highland Cows, bred German Shepherds, and even had a team of draft horses. Shields is one of 10 children of Ryan and Lisa Shields, so there were many helping hands.
“I absolutely love my big family and everything that having a big family brings,” she said. “My parents also made sure we knew that every life has a worth, and every life is a gift.”
A pivotal moment for Shields was during her senior year at Doddridge High School. She was assigned a 10-page research paper. She chose abortion as her subject.
“I remember I had to stand up and present it to my class,” she said.
That day she became a voice for the voiceless.
“I just knew I was meant to share the truth about abortion, share how there is help out there for anyone who feels alone, and encourage people defend life from conception,” she said. “I knew I was called to do more.”
As a student at Davis and Elkins, Shields started a pro-life club. Then at West Virginia University, where she is currently finishing a multidisciplinary degree in education, she serves as an officer for Mountaineers for Life. Her resume doesn’t stop there. She’s served on West Virginians for Life and helped youth across the state begin their own pro-life clubs through Students for Life.
“In our culture right now, everyone is so focused on equality – we need to open eyes and hearts and remind everyone that equality must include the lives of the unborn,” she said.
A few years ago, Shields traveled to Ireland with Students for Life to echo that message and most recently traveled to Georgia, where the group worked to raise awareness to 70,000 households not only about abortion and the laws and politics surrounding it, but also about the help that is available to expecting mothers and fathers out there, whose pregnancy was unplanned.
“It is so incredibly important to reach the high school and college aged (population), who are often misled,” she said. “Pro-life is a group about hope. Truth is on our side we just have to go out and be that voice of truth.”
When school lets out and summer begins, Shields will head to Huttonsville to work as the summer program director of Camp Carlo (formerly Camp Bosco). She attended the camp in high school and then became a counselor.
“What can I say, ‘I love everything Catholic’,” Shields said. “I love working for the Church. We are excited to get Camp Carlo started with a new energy. Camp is a really good way to escape the world and everything going on and at the same time dive into faith, friendships, and adventure. I don’t want people to leave on a spiritual high and it goes away when you go home. We aim to excite them and inspire them to love their faith and take that love home and spread it in their parish and community.”
Working the camp will “also give me a chance to grow deeper into my faith, while making good friends who also recognize that we truly are God’s servants and what it means to live that.”
Shields is a dynamic asset to the Catholic summer camp and a truly compassionate person, said Camp Carlo Director Riley Keaton.
“Sadie Shields is a tremendous role model for young Catholics,” he said. “Her example is instructive, particularly for young women, in how to simply be a faithful Catholic. We are so fortunate to have her working in camping ministry for our young people in the Diocese.”
Without a doubt, Shields believes it is her Catholic faith, prayers, saints, and traditions that keep her focused and balanced, especially when times are tough.
Her favorite saint, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, is a role model for her.
“Saint Gianna’s story is so inspiring,” she said of the patron saint for physicians, pregnant mothers, unborn children, and anti-abortion. “I love learning about her and learning from her.”
She said, we are all precious from the start in God’s eyes. Hence her favorite bible verse (Jeremiah 1:5), “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
When asked, “What is your advice to motivate other young Catholics?” without hesitation she said, “Pray the rosary every day.”
Whatever it is you seek for your life or seek to help others, calling on the Blessed Mother will bring you to peace, she said.
“Give it to Mary! Let her work in your life in a way that is so gentle, she will bring you to Christ,” Shields said. “ We are all called to serve God and help bring people closer to Him. We need to trust and be brave. There is always someone out there to help us – parents, parish members, Students for Life groups. Lean on others to help answer your call. God wants that relationship with us. We don’t just fall in love with Him over night, be patient with yourself and allow it to happen in His time.”