Young LDS attend seminary lessons

Published 9:32 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

This school year, 15 area high-schoolers rose before the sun every morning to receive religious instruction at their church.

At 6 a.m., young members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered at the church building on Bennett’s Pasture Road to study the Scriptures. Most had to rise around 5 a.m. to get ready and make it to the church on time.

“I wanted to prepare for my two-year mission,” 18-year-old Cory DeFreitas said. “It was just a great start to the day. I would start off my day reading Scriptures and having seminary class, and I would be able to go off to school with a better start.”

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DeFreitas, Joshua King and Michael Henderson are the three Suffolk graduates from the seminary program this year. A total of 26 high school seniors from the Southside (excluding Virginia Beach) graduated on June 6 at the Suffolk church building.

The four-year program focuses on one book of Scripture — Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants — each year. This year’s lessons came from the Book of Mormon, and DeFreitas said he learned more about faith, hope and charity from his lessons.

“I learned about charity the most, and how we need to treat other people,” DeFreitas said. “We need to have the love of Christ and be able to do things for them without having a reason to do it.”

The lessons also taught the young people personal responsibility, DeFreitas added. They needed to discipline themselves to be awake in time in the morning and have their schoolwork finished in time at night to get enough sleep. Many also had jobs, such as DeFreitas, who worked at a local martial arts school three nights each week.

“It’s a really great thing to do,” DeFreitas said of the seminary classes. “It brings a spirit to my life that would be absent if I didn’t.”

DeFreitas will carry the lessons he learned with him to the University of Virginia’s engineering school, where he will study biomedical engineering. He hopes to apply for his mission assignment within the next year.

Each of the graduates received more than 1,000 hours of religious education during their high school years.