Cecilia Henrich poses for a picture with one of her senior theology students Macy Brennan March 4, 2021 Staff Photos/Emma Cervi 

A teacher from a humble town in Iowa develops an allergy to the cold: what could go wrong? 

          Cecilia Henrich is a theology teacher at Notre Dame Preparatory that moved to Arizona from Iowa two years ago upon her diagnosis of an autoimmune disease known as Cold Urticaria. In this article Henrich describes the challenges of her condition, what role her faith played in the transition, and advice she has for seniors who may be moving away from home as well next year for college.

Cecilia Henrich grew up always loving the cold: ice skating hockey, snow, you name it. She never had any issue with the cold until she took a group of students to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indiana. There she had such a severe reaction that she was rushed to the emergency room. 

She went to the Mayo Clinicand perplexed all the allergy doctors there. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as Cold Urticaria. “When I’m in temperatures around 40 degrees I swell up with hives, and my throat swells shut and I can’t breathe,” said Henrich. The only form of treatment that the doctors would recommend to her was to simply just to move somewhere warm: Phoenix. 

Faith played a huge role in Henrich’s move from Iowa to Arizona. She and her husband both are devout Catholics, and Cecilia has taught at Cataholic schools for over 30 years. She knew she wanted to continue this vocation of teaching at a Catholic school in Arizona as well. 

She did not know how hard it would be to find a job at a Catholic school, so she and her husband Tom resorted to prayer for guidance. Her husband is a deacon who works as a family and marriage therapist, and “He really felt called by God to start a Catholic family practice on his own.” said Henrich. So when they decided to move to Arizona, they both had a strong sense of purpose in what they felt called by God to pursue.

Crucifixes and images of her faith are apparent and abundant in Henrich’s theology classroom March 2, 2021 Staff Photos/Emma Cervi 

Henrich wanted to share some advice she has for the seniors she teaches. She knows how daunting it can be moving away from one’s family first hand, and how scary it can be to live in a place where one doesn’t know anyone. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people, because as the newbie, you’re going to have to be the one that reaches out, don’t sit back and wait for someone to come to you” says Henrich. 

Henrich elaborates saying that it can be intimidating not knowing anyone, but you just have to put yourself out there because everyone is going through the same thing and is likely just as nervous as you are. 

Henrich’s impact is felt deeply throughout the NDP community by her students. “I really appreciate the time and effort she puts into teaching all her students. Mrs. Henrich also makes a connection to her students on a personal level; whether it be talking about our weekend plans or vacation trips, she makes sure to connect with each student daily, something that I really admire.” said NDP Senior Casey Park. 

Another NDP senior Macy Brennan elaborates saying, “Mrs. Henrich is honestly a teacher I look up to. She loves to connect with her students and her laugh is contagious. I am so happy to have gotten the chance to have her as a teacher.” Said Brennan. 

All in all, the NDP community is incredibly grateful to have Cecilia Henrich as a teacher. She truly cares about her students and always strives to make a positive impact in their day. It just goes to show that despite the terrible diagnosis of her Cold Urticaria autoimmune disease, if one has faith in God, good things will inevitably follow him or her.