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Students At Sacred Heart Of Jesus In Queens Forge Special Bond With Beatified Teen Carlo Acutis

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A teenager who built a website and loved Pokemon is one step away from sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, students in Queens forged a special connection with this millennial religious role model Thursday.

At Sacred Heart of Jesus in Bayside, students learned about a likely soon-to-be saint who surfed the net and enjoyed PlayStation: Italian teenager Carlo Acutis.

"Young people are very inspired by Carlo. He's a lot like me and other young children," said student Claudia Gilbert.

"Hopefully we can become more like him, more interested in God, become closer to him like he was," said student Antonio Alvero.

Last October in Assisi, Italy, Carlo was beatified - one step short of sainthood. He was a deeply devout millennial who died from leukemia in 2006. The church credits his intervention for the miraculous healing of a Brazilian boy with pancreatic disease.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has acquired a so-called "first class" relic of Acutis: a lock of his hair inside an ornate reliquary.

Students prayed the rosary then bowed in veneration before the relic.

"He was a very ordinary kid and somehow God's grace reached him and he responded to that grace, and this is what we want our young people to do also," said Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio.

In his short life, Acutis created a website promoting the faith and numerous inspirational writings.

"I think one of the most profound things that he said was, 'Everyone is born as an original. But unfortunately some people die as photocopies.' He wanted you to make sure that you were the person that God created you to be," said Msgr. Thomas Machalski.

A relatable, religious hero to inspire a generation to go make a difference in the world.

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