Uganda names school after extraordinary teenager who offered her battle with cancer to Christ – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — A primary school in Uganda has been named after Maria Middleton, a beloved teen from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, who lost her life to cancer.

According to a June press release, the Adjumami District of Uganda opened the Maria Middleton Sodogo Primary School in February to honor Middleton, an extraordinary teenager who offered her battle with cancer to Christ.

“Maria Middleton made a lasting impression on the Ugandan community during her visit in October 2019, just nine months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 16,” the press release revealed.

“The news of her illness quickly spread worldwide, inspiring the staff and students in Uganda to pray for her recovery,” it continued.

Despite her life being cut short, Maria touched the hearts of those around her through her profound love of God.

As LifeSiteNews previously reported, Maria was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the young age of 16. However, she did not despair but chose to embrace Christ and offer up her suffering to save souls.

Maria excelled both academically and spiritually, graduating from her school with several awards, including the Parish Award, Highest Average Award, and the Knights of Columbus First Place Essay Contest.

“Maria’s dedication to academics, leadership, and service embodies the values we strive to instill in all our students,” Marion Passman, director of institutional advancement at The Regina Academy at St. John the Baptist that Maria attended, told LifeSiteNews.

“The naming of a school after her in Uganda is a testament to her enduring impact, both locally and globally,” she continued.

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Despite being extraordinarily smart and holy, Maria was “very normal,” her father, Brian, told LifeSiteNews editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen.

“One of my favorite Maria quotes in her journal is ‘You don’t have to be weird to be holy,’” he stated. “Maria was a was a holy person, but she excelled in just about everything … whether it be her studies or athleticism, but it never really defined her.”

In early 2019, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given nine months to live. Shortly after receiving the diagnosis, Maria said the following words to her father: “No matter the circumstances of my life, my purpose remains the same, that is to know, love, and serve God. Faith is not an emotion. Emotions rise and fall. Faith is a commitment. I will not despair.”

Maria went on to live longer than the nine more months she was given, which allowed her to fly to Uganda with her parents in October 2019.

In 2020, Maria had to go to the hospital, and the family lived there with her for almost five months. Even though she was bedridden and very ill, Maria’s presence began to transform the lives of the hospital staff.

On Good Friday 2020, when it looked like Maria would die, she offered up all her suffering for the salvation of souls. She said, “God will be here soon, either for the miracle or to take me home, but in the meantime, let’s continue to save souls.”

“She was leading people to Jesus into eternity,” Maria’s father said. “The hospital room became a chapel and her bed became an altar of sacrifice. People would actually take breaks and come to Maria’s room and they would pray … All night people would come in (and pray).”

Maria ended up living until a month after her 18th birthday. Thousands of people came to her funeral, as many had developed a devotion to the young, saintly woman.

In addition to the school named in her honor, Maria’s parents founded the Think Hope Foundation, which aims “to reach people who are on the continuum of despair.”

The name of the foundation comes from the last two words in Maria’s diary: “Think hope.”

The Foundation seeks to support organizations that provide Catholic and classical education, help despairing teenagers, and bring hope to businesses.

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