Location: Hillsdale, New Jersey
Job Title: Catholic Speaker, Artistic Director, Disabilities Advocate
Organization: Array of Hope
Education: St. Thomas Aquinas College
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Recreational Therapy
Lauren Costabile, GIVEN ’16
“A key takeaway from GIVEN was that we all have gifts and talents that we are called to use to build up the Church and make the world a better place. We need to celebrate these gifts in ourselves and in others … We are called to embrace our individuality, and also to work together as sisters in the Body of Christ.” – Lauren Costabile
Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
I am a Catholic speaker, filmmaker, and disabilities advocate. I come from a big Italian Catholic family in New Jersey. Everyone in my family is musical, so holidays in our home are always filled with singing and jam sessions. My faith is the most important thing in my life; it’s who I am and I incorporate it into everything I do. I love to sing and glorify God through music. I hope to use my gifts and talents to make the world a brighter place and to spread God’s love. Fun fact: I was in a McDonald’s commercial as a kid!
Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
I currently work with Array of Hope, a Catholic multimedia ministry that creates live concert events, music, and films that proclaim the Gospel and draw others closer to God. I create and coordinate the social media content as well as present and sing at the live concert events.
“I see the face of God in every child with special needs. They live each day to the fullest, love unconditionally, and don’t judge others.”
My biggest passion is to serve those with special needs. I have been blessed to travel to France, Nicaragua, Uganda, and India on mission to serve this community and these children have truly taught me so much about my faith. I see the face of God in every child with special needs. They live each day to the fullest, love unconditionally, and don’t judge others. These beautiful children have inspired me in many ways and taught me so much about compassion and love. I always strive to advocate and raise greater awareness for them in all that I do. Each one is a unique and unrepeatable child of God, perfectly and wonderfully made.
What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?
I believe I have been blessed with the gift of communicating God’s love to others in an authentic way, whether that be through song, speaking, or through the films I create. I love to share my personal experience with Christ in the hope that it draws others closer to Him.
What women inspire you, and why?
St. Teresa of Calcutta is my biggest inspiration. I really admire her desire to serve the needs of those around her, especially the sick, dying, and those with disabilities. She helps me see the face of Christ in every person I serve. She encourages and inspires me on a daily basis to follow God’s dreams for me, but also to remember to take it one step at a time and to do “small things with great love.”
What is the best advice/encouragement you’ve received about vocational discernment?
“Where you find peace is where God wants you to be.” In my experience of discernment, if I am led to a place of peace, that is how I know it is of God. There is a deep knowing in your heart, an indescribable peace that overcomes you when you are where you are supposed to be, doing God’s work. He doesn’t want us to be miserable or anxious, He wants us to be filled with His love and joy. This has helps me to truly discern what is His will and what is my own will. That is not to say that if something is hard, it’s not God’s will. Because sometimes we are called to do things that are difficult. But if it is truly God’s will, He will provide us with the grace and strength to do it and He will fill your heart with endless peace.
“In my experience of discernment, if I am led to a place of peace, that is how I know it is of God. There is a deep knowing in your heart, an indescribable peace that overcomes you when you are where you are supposed to be, doing God’s work.”
Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?
I say this prayer to the Holy Spirit by Joseph Cardinal Mercier every day: “O, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do, give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your will. Amen.”
This prayer helps me to be open to the ways that the Holy Spirit may be moving in my life, whether that is in the little moments of each day or in the bigger picture of God’s will for my life. It also encourages me not only to listen to the promptings of the Spirit, but to have the courage to act and follow where God is leading.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta
This humbly reminds me of our littleness and how we truly need God’s grace throughout our lives. But it also encourages me to know that even in our littleness, we can make a difference. We are all unique in our own ways. Each one of us an unrepeatable, perfect child of God with gifts and talents that we can offer to make this world a better place. Let your life be the greatest love letter that was ever written.
What were your key takeaways from the 2016 GIVEN Forum?
For me, a key takeaway from GIVEN was that we all have gifts and talents that we are called to use to build up the Church and make the world a better place. We need to celebrate these gifts in ourselves and in others. At GIVEN, I was able to see that what I have been given may be different than what has been given to another, but that our gifts complement each other. We are called to embrace our individuality, and also to work together as sisters in the Body of Christ.
“We all have gifts and talents that we are called to use to build up the Church and make the world a better place. We need to celebrate these gifts in ourselves and in others.”
What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.
Since GIVEN, the Holy Spirit has moved me to use my gifts and talents to create something specifically for the special needs community to help them grow in their faith. Being involved with this population over the years, I came to see that when it came time for them to receive the sacraments, there were little resources available to help them learn about Reconciliation, Communion, and Confirmation.
“I was inspired to create a video series/interactive program that teaches children with special needs about the sacraments. The program will include peer to peer ministering through music, interactive games and adaptive learning.“
I was inspired to create a video series/interactive program that teaches children with special needs about the sacraments. It takes the catechesis curriculum for the sacraments and adapts it for all learning types. The program will include peer to peer ministering through music, interactive games and adaptive learning. I am producing this series with Array of Hope. We hope that it will serve as a resource for families and teachers and be used in dioceses throughout the country. I am so excited for this project and to help serve the special needs community in this way!