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The Power of Powers: How Flint’s Catholic High School—and the Love of Christ—Transformed Makenzie Minge

Makenzie Minge’s life has changed dramatically over the past year. During that time, the 18-year-old from Mount Morris has embarked upon a college career, been received into the Catholic Church and has even featured on the front cover of FAITH magazine. And it all began, she says, at Powers Catholic High School in Flint.

“Powers changed my life in so many ways but, better yet, it changed me,” says Makenzie, who switched from local public schools to Powers Catholic High during her sophomore year. “I came to Powers never having been challenged academically and knowing little about Catholicism but graduated last year with valuable knowledge about the world around me, friendships I am forever grateful for, and reception into the Catholic Church.” 

Powers Catholic High School was founded in 1970. It takes its name from Father Luke M. Powers, a Massachusetts-born Augustinian priest who served as pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Flint for 37 years until his death in 1970. 

The school presently has over 550 students in grades 9–12, who learn within the grand, neo-classical setting of Flint’s historic Fay Hall. Makenzie says the true greatness of the school, however, is to be found among the Powers staff and students.  

“The encouragement from staff and students made a huge impact for me,” says Makenzie. “They truly displayed Jesus’ love in everything they did, which now encourages me to do the same.”

Makenzie issues a particular note of gratitude to Powers’ former campus minister, Patrick Brennan; present school chaplain, Father Anthony Smela; and her senior year theology teacher, Valentina Piotrzkowski, for helping her grow closer to the Catholic Church.   

Raised as a Pentecostal protestant, Makenzie began to feel drawn to Catholicism following a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist during a school retreat in her senior year at Powers. She was confirmed and received her first holy Communion last May at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing. Mrs. Piotrzkowski was her sponsor. 

“I still have contact with friends and staff who continue to encourage me in everything I do, which means more to me than I could ever have hoped for,” Makenzie says. “Powers has changed my life for the better in allowing me to go deeper than I could have ever imagined into my faith and truly growing in love for others.”  

It is this legacy that Makenzie now brings to her new college career. She is currently halfway through her first year at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, where she is majoring in biblical studies.

“I can go forward in life with the wonders of how much God has done for me at Powers and with excitement for what he’s going to do both in my life—as well as the life of Powers—in the future,” she says. “Powers is such a different place. It’s not just a high school. It is Jesus’ love displayed, knowledge opened, opportunities awaiting, and so much more.”