Hellos from Heaven Spur Servite Senior to Make Faith Cool

Lori RosehartNews You Can Use

God’s presence dwells among us, and when we open our hearts and minds to all of who He is, we are transformed from the inside out. For Luke Greenlee, the Holy Spirit has brought the Servite High School senior (‘24) peace, comfort and clarity of his brother’s death—while at the same time placing a desire on his heart to help teens and young adults overcome the fear of being faith-filled.

On February 28, 2024, Luke put his Catholic faith into action through service, prayer and compassion as he volunteered for The Orange Catholic Foundation’s (OCF) 21st Annual Conference on Business & Ethics (CBE). Moments before the keynote speech, Luke prayed for Fr. Mike Schmitz and asked God to guide Fr. Mike’s words. Toward the end of the speech, it became clear that God not only heard his prayer, but that He was using this morning of service with OCF to minister to Luke: “I truly feel that I was there for a reason because I’ve been trying to make sense of why my brother, Matthew, was taken at such a young age.”

The Greenlee Family. Pictured from left to right: Lianne, Matthew, Luke, Claire, Jeff

In August 2023, Matthew Greenlee, a Servite High School alum, was involved in an accident while working on his bike in Arizona, which resulted in a life-threatening brain injury. And six months later, Fr. Mike reminded Luke that “the whole point of life is to become a certain kind of person and you don’t need 80 years to become a certain kind of person.” Luke was deeply touched, “It really showed me that Matthew maybe did reach his full potential at 21 and that everything is in God’s hands, so why not trust Him.”

For the Greenlee family, trusting God has been something that’s kept Luke, his parents, Jeff and Lianne, and his sister Claire grounded every day and especially during challenging times. Unfortunately, Matthew is the second child Jeff and Lianne have lost. Their first born, Emma, passed away more than 20 years ago.

Lianne shared, “When you are in crisis and you are surrendered to God in that space, you experience God. I call them hellos from heaven—signs that God brings through people and other ways. There is so much mercy and so much grace. And when you are open to that, it carries you.”

Luke became more open to these hellos from heaven a couple of years prior to Matthew’s death: “When I was a sophomore, I had gone to confession with my mom and my sister, and we decided to spend a few moments in the chapel. I was on the kneeler, and it was one of the first moments when I knew that God was present in the tabernacle in front of me.”

At a youth night at Santa Clara de Asis Catholic Church in Yorba Linda, he had a similar experience during adoration. Plus, Luke’s time at Servite has taught him how to put his faith into action through the ambassador program and other leadership opportunities, such as assisting guests and collecting tuition assistance donations at OCF’s 21st Annual CBE.

Luke, Lianne and Matthew Greenlee at Servite High School's Mother-Son Mass and Reception. Photo Credit: Servite High School

Every step of faith and every relationship built along the way prepared the Greenlee family to surrender to God’s plan in Matthew’s hospital room. For Luke, it came through the Divine Mercy Chaplet, “My prayer was no longer please let him stay with me, but it became if it’s Your will to take him that’s okay as long as he is with You.” For Lianne, it was while praying the Rosary and uttering the words Jesus taught us “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Crediting all her children for deepening her faith, Lianne explained, “Our goal as parents is to get our children to heaven and to be there with them. I cannot force my children to have faith, but what I can do is journey alongside them and provide them with the opportunities to connect, grow and learn in their own faith.”

During a time when so many children, teens, and young adults are leaving the Catholic Church, Luke wanted to share his story to show that being close to Jesus doesn’t have to be “uncool” and “if some students can see a normal 18-year-old talking about his faith, I hope that they would deepen their relationship with God as well.” As a student leader, the graduating senior has opened up about his testimony at various Servite High School events, retreats and in front of more than 1,000 high school students at the Transformed event in January 2024 at Christ Cathedral.

But it goes beyond that—Lianne, who also desires to bring hope to mothers of loss, and Luke know that speaking to what God has done in their lives “brings even more meaning to Matthew and who he was in this world," and you can help them add to that!

You can be a hello from heaven for a child whose family can’t afford Catholic education. You can be a hello from heaven for a teen who desires to grow closer to God, but their parish doesn’t have a youth minister. You can be a hello from heaven to another mother of loss who is looking for a place to be heard but doesn’t know where to turn. To touch the lives of others, contact The Orange Catholic Foundation at (714) 282-3021 or [email protected] and find out how you can make a gift that will truly reflect your loving service to God. To learn more about Servite High School, visit servitehs.org.