Johana in Hawaii


Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi, my name is Johana Castillo. I live in the beautiful state of Hawaii on the island of Oahu. I am 27 years of age and I teach at a Catholic school, enjoying the state of my current vocation that God has placed me in. I have been teaching God’s little ones for the past six years. I also serve as a core leader in Youth ministry at my local parish and belong to a Young Adult group that’s been a blessing. I am currently pursuing a Masters degree online through Steubenville. Go Barons!

I am the youngest out of four, I have two older brothers and an older sister. Growing up with three older siblings was a challenge. We all have different personalities and I always felt the pressure of not making mistakes to avoid corrections from them. I grew up in the faith completing the Sacraments of Initiation as a young child , but drew away from the faith in my late teens. 

My parents would take my family and I to Mass each Sunday with also going to a Charismatic prayer group on Tuesday nights. In my early adulthood, I had many friends from the Protestant faith that would invite me to their bible study and worship nights every week. At that age, I did not appreciate the fullness of Mass or gain understanding of the saints and prayers. My lack of understanding, led me to the Protestant Church for quite sometime.  I joined their worship dance team learning hula through Christian music and small groups with attending service on Sundays.

I always felt that I had to hide my actions from my family to avoid conflict. I wasn’t entirely open about my faith to my family , knowing the strife that would cause. For years, I would avoid the truth of my activities and events I would join. I always prayed for godly council in my relationship with others and for a faith filled community that nourish and nurture the Church’s teachings of the mystery of the Mass. It wasn’t until the year of 2015. That was the toughest year and the time that I gained understanding what the  book of Philippians 4:13 meant to me I can do all things in Christ who strengths me. 

My nephew was diagnosed with epilepsy at two months old and my dearest cousin, who I considered a brother passed away. With also leaving a toxic relationship that was leading nowhere. I was frustrated, lost and completely overwhelmed with life. I did not know what to do, but pray. I wholeheartedly prayed for Gods will and strength to endure everything that was happening and for Mama Mary’s protection and grace. A close family friend invited me to go to Adoration with her and I accepted. That night I was in awe. When we arrived into the chapel,  I immediately noticed the roses that were by the statue of Our Lady de Guadalupe. 

I took the seat closest to the Monstrance and I have never seen it so radiant before. It was if someone had a flashlight shinning on it, but the lights  in the chapel were dim. At that moment, I felt a warm presence on my face and tears began to stream down. It wasn’t till then that I realized that all that time of struggles and trying to solve things by myself, I was missing the most important part of my faith, the Eucharist. I was lacking the most vital part, that Jesus himself uttered at the Last Supper. The divine mystery of the Eucharist. 

The next day, I went to confession and then attended Mass. It never felt more of a homecoming when the entrance hymn was playing. I felt a warm sensation over me. Everything that came afterwards, was God sent. He provided healing and strength in times of weakness. 

Name a saint you identify with and share why.

The saint I identify with is St. John Paul II. His Marian devotion is inspiring and I adore his passion for the youth and Theology of the Body. His biography is a testament to the divine providence that God bestowed upon him. Through his papacy, he ministered to people all over the world and his love to the Lady of Guadalupe stuns me. I wish to learn more about his devotion and his life.

When have you felt most valued as a woman in the Church? 

As a core leader in youth ministry, the team and I lead multitude of youth to complete their sacrament with learning catechism. My sister and I promote the importance of the youth within the church community that allows us to be valued and looked upon as leaders for the youth.

What’s your favorite way to pray?

My favorite way to pray is in the quietness of a Church or in adoration. Also, taking walks and hikes to recite the rosary and doing devotions on the beach. 

Favorite liturgical holiday?

My favorite liturgical holiday is Christmas. I enjoy the preparation through the Advent season that leads to the coming of Christ. 

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy going hiking and finding new adventures. I have a love for water sports that’s been a bit of a challenge to master haha. Living on an island, is definitely a blessing, but it’s definitely an adventure worth pursuing. There’s so many hikes and different islands to discover within the state. I love to pick up a new book to read when traveling. 

Three words that describe you — go! 

Spontaneous. Passionate. Adventurous 

Corynne StaresinicComment