I am from Atlanta, Ga., where I spent the first 13 years of my life. I’ve always attended a Catholic school, but I can see a clear difference between my education in Georgia, and the one I’ve been able to have here.
Before moving here, I really wasn’t involved in my faith; a lot of the kids at my old school weren’t even Catholic, and if they were, most either weren’t practicing or weren’t living out the faith in all areas of their lives. I didn’t have anyone to look up to as what living a good Catholic lifestyle as a young woman in the 21st century should look like. Because of this I tended to just put my faith into the box of only being part of my life for Sunday Mass and prayer before meals.
Another thing that I saw a great lack of in my life was a sense of community at my church. My school and church were not connected, so my family mainly just spent time volunteering at my school and growing relationships with people there and not with the people at my church; outside of Sunday Mass we never saw them.
The summer before I began eighth grade, my family moved from Georgia to Wichita. My parents signed me up for SFA’s Totus Tuus camp, and it was there – for the first time in my life – I met kids my age who were truly living out their faith. I attended St. Francis School for eighth grade and was able to grow relationships with many of the kids I was introduced to at that camp.
By the end of the year, I was invited to CYM and Angels of the Holy Queen because of the relationships I had formed. Through participation in these groups, I found a great community of kids my age who were striving for our Lord and ready to assist me in my journey every step of the way.
Both groups allowed me to grow in fellowship with my peers through lots of fun activities like Nerf wars, lip sync battles, movie nights, volleyball tournaments and so much more. But the main way they assisted me is through my faith, through holy hours and confession opportunities, scripture meditations, consecration to Mary, and by helping me grow spiritually with my friends.
I had true holy friendships for the first time in my life, and these friends gave me fabulous role models to look up to who lived out their faith entirely. The witness of the adults and peers in my life who surrounded me gave me the courage to dive deeper into my faith and give God my complete yes, my fiat, which happens to be this year’s stewardship theme.
After this moment I started going to daily Mass and adoration frequently, which caused me to be at St. Francis every single day and spending most of my free time outside of school at church. This increase of time at church and increase of appreciation for all the amazing things this church offers allowed me to discover the deep desire inside of me to serve others. Through further discernment I grew to understand that God was calling me to serve those who have served me the past few years and give back to my community, my home, my parish, St. Francis.
I started to serve in the way I felt like I could best, through music. My whole life I have loved singing and music; it’s always been an area that I enjoyed and felt confidence. Two years ago, I served for the first time by singing at Christmas Eve Mass; slowly I started getting more and more involved by also helping lead praise and worship Saturday nights, and working my way up to weekly cantering.
This year I’ve begun to serve in different ways around the parish by becoming a Eucharistic Minister and helping teach PSR to eighth graders every Wednesday night.
Some might think that I do these things because of how much I enjoy doing them, and while I do love serving those around me, the joy and excitement isn’t always there. Sometimes I’m tired or busy and don’t feel like I have the time or energy to serve, but I know that at those moments where the last thing I want to do is help, that the most important thing for me to do is to help anyway.
You all have the opportunity to take part in this by serving this through stewardship, which starts with filling out your stewardship form.
I would also like to invite all parish teens to come to CYM on Wednesday nights; join our community of fellowship, fun and faith. Thank you.