Gabe: The Man in Christ

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Gabe Heffernan is a man of all seasons. He and I are like Frodo and Sam at St. John Paul II Catholic School, together we defeat the Eye of Mordor.  He is witty, clever, sarcastic, an impressionist, an actor, fluent in Spanish, virtuous, an avid reader, personable, Christ-like, and bearded. Whether we are at home, at school, or hanging out, Gabe never fails to showcase these qualities. With him, there is never a dull moment. Often, he’ll come home from school with a story of one his interactions with a student or two. One time, he told the story of how a first grader asked him about his beard. In a high pitched impersonation he repeated their words, “Mr. Heffman, why do you have a cat on your face?” Sometimes, Gabe will go up to me and give me a random hug. Other times, he steals my lightsaber chopsticks for a saber fight, pretending to stab me.

Despite his silliness, Gabe is Christ-like. As a community, we strive to place Jesus Christ above all things. I see Gabe live that out each day. He lives a Christocentric life by praying each day, attending Mass, and placing others before himself. I see this most evident when he interacts with our community, his students, and fellow teachers. For him, every encounter is an encounter with Christ.

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His day usually begins with a small voice pleading, “Mr. Heffman, when are we going to the gym?” These words typically come from one of the younger students in Kidstop, JPII’s before and after school program. In Kidstop, he gets to interact with students from K-8th. I witness Gabe going above and beyond in developing relationships with students. Often, he shoots hoops with them and joins in various games. Gabe has determination. I often see him helping middle school students despite math being his weaker subject. In all things, he desires to see his students succeed in and out of the classroom. Together, we work with the 6th-8th graders, where his role includes assisting 6th-7th grade Math groups, Social Studies, 7-8th English Language Arts, Recess duty, and 1st grade.

What is most evident in Gabe is his missionary spirit and desire to serve. On a daily basis, he receives Christ and brings Christ to students and staff alike. With the efforts he puts forward, it is easy to see Christ through him. He gives so much of his time and talent for the students and teachers he serves. Many teachers have mentioned how it would be near impossible to provide the scaffolded learning for students without his help. As a colleague and housemate, Gabe has become a close friend and I see Christ working in and through him every day. He is truly a good man in Christ and a man of the Church.

Feature Spotlight by Missionary Educator Jason Lee

Theresa Krueger