Faith and science go hand-in-hand for Mount St. Mary’s student

EMMITSBURG – The more deeply Veronica Balick probes cellular and molecular biology, the more firmly she believes in the existence of God.

“It’s just incredible to learn how all these tiny, little molecules can do all these incredible things and keep us alive,” said Balick, a sophomore at Mount St. Mary’s University who is studying biochemistry and biology as a double major.

“In a biochemistry course I took last semester, we learned about how proteins work,” she said. “It’s definitely got to be God working there because there’s no way that didn’t happen without some sort of intention behind it. It all works so perfectly together.”

For Balick, a parishioner of St. Louis in Clarksville who is minoring in mathematics, faith and science easily go hand-in-hand.

Guided by a mentor at Mount St. Mary’s, Balick currently spends hours in the laboratory attempting to place a fluorescent gene inside a plant so it shows a specific pattern of florescence. In the summer, she will be researching leukemia during an internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a doctorate so she can begin a career in cancer research.

“I really want to help bring healing to those people who are suffering,” Balick said. “It’s something that needs so much focus. We’re making really great strides in it, but there’s so much that we really don’t know.”

The eldest of four sisters, Balick was homeschooled from grade 3 through 8. She was one of the top-performing students at Mount de Sales Academy in Catonsville, where she graduated as salutatorian in 2016 and was one of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Distinctive Scholars.

At Mount St. Mary’s, Balick was awarded the Monsignor Hugh J. Phillips Prize for being one of the freshmen with the highest grade point averages.

Veronica Balick sees no contradiction between faith and science. (George P. Matysek Jr./CR Staff)

Balick serves as a lector at Mount St. Mary’s, where she is active in campus ministry and helps lead the incoming freshman retreat. She has also led high school and middle school retreats, including one for juniors at Mount de Sales. Involved in a women’s fellowship and a Bible study, Balick attended a Catholic leadership conference in January sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

“We prayed the rosary every day as a family since I was 6 or 7,” Balick said. “My parents really made sure that the whole time we were growing up, we had a lot access to resources about our faith.”

Father Brian Nolan, chaplain and director of Catholic ministry at Mount St. Mary’s, said Balick “radiates goodness because she has such a love for God.”

“She lives the faith day-to-day,” Father Nolan said. “She goes to Mass daily, prays and surrounds herself with good people. She’s always available to others and has a really joy-filled presence.”

Balick said she finds peace in knowing that God is ultimately in charge.

“I don’t have to be in control,” she said. “I can trust him and know that he has a plan. It’s so wonderful to have that hope and to know that even if things are not going well, God is still there and is still guiding it. God can bring good out of those hard situations.”

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George P. Matysek Jr.

George P. Matysek Jr.

George Matysek was named digital editor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2017 following two decades at the Catholic Review, where he began as a writer and then served as senior correspondent, assistant managing editor and web editor.

In his current role, he manages and and is a host of the Catholic Baltimore radio program.

George has won more than 70 national and regional journalism and broadcasting awards from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, the Catholic Press Association, the Associated Church Press and National Right to Life. He has reported from Guyana, Guatemala, Italy, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

A native Baltimorean, George is a proud graduate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Essex. He holds a bachelor's degree from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore and a master's degree from UMBC.

George, his wife and five children live in Rodgers Forge, where they are parishioners of St. Pius X, Rodgers Forge/St. Mary of the Assumption, Govans.