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Christina Campoll joined Indiana University’s chapter of Amnesty International because, she said, “that’s what I felt called to do -- serving and protecting people.”

Campoll, 21, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Bloomington, Ind., led an effort by the Amnesty group in the spring to pass the Youth Sentencing Reform Act in the Indiana General Assembly. The bill would have raised the minimum age for execution to 18 years at the time of the offense, instead of 16 years.

Although they found a representative to sponsor the bill, it was defeated quickly when it was introduced in January. However, Campoll, who will be coordinator of the Amnesty chapter next fall, said she will spend the summer researching how to effectively lobby for a bill. The group plans to have it refiled by January 2000.

Since 1997, Dr. Joe Spalitto, a dentist, and his wife Liz, a dental hygienist, have traveled to Guatemala to offer dental care to rural, indigenous people.

They have annually joined a group of parishioners from St. Thomas More Church in Kansas City, Mo., who visit their sister parish in San Andres, Itzapa. On each trip, they have assisted more than 200 patients with severe dental problems. For most of the people who come for dental care, it is their only opportunity to see a dentist. In 1998, Joe Spalitto also arranged for an oral surgeon and an osteopathic doctor to join the trip.

The couple has also joined a group of volunteer doctors to work at a clinic in Santa Maria de Jesus in Antigua. The group treated over 1,500 patients.

The Spalittos organized a fundraiser for St. Thomas More’s sister parish in January. They hoped to raise $5,000 and instead received more than $12,000 in donations. This summer they will return to San Andres, Itzapa, accompanied by their son, Pete Spalitto, a dental student. The St. Thomas More group will also include a physician, a medical student, a nurse, a microbiologist, electricians, teachers, priests and other parishioners.

“The real inspiration is the smile and sincere appreciation that the people of Guatemala return to the missionaries,” the Spalittos said.

Send suggestions for Keeping Faith to Teresa Malcolm at NCR. Her e-mail is tmalcolm@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, June 4, 1999