Category Archives: Share Your Story

A Conversation with Gabe, Liam, Luke and Sarah Cate

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Recently, I wanted to find out how some young people were feeling about COVID, faith and their prayer life.  It was a small taste of the disruption COVID has had on all of our lives and how we’ve all been challenged to dig a bit deeper to hang on to prayer, our connection to God and our connections to each other.  

Many of us had to adjust to online church services, on-line school and on-line meet ups.  It was a weird time for sure.  We felt an immediate and complete disconnection to relationships we’ve grown to love and depend on – our relationship with God, our relationships with friends and our relationships with loved ones we could no longer see in person.  

Not being able to physically go to church services meant we had to really commit to attending in a different way, through YouTube services.  It wasn’t easy and some did and some didn’t.  

Gabe Loomis said, “COVID has affected my faith life because I hadn’t been able to go in Mass and pray instead I had to pray at my house which is o.k. but I would rather, if I could, be in the house of God.”  At Mass I feel like I am more in touch with God but at home there are many distractions.

Liam Bradley said, “COVID has affected me because when they stopped having Mass I felt like I was pulled away from God and my prayer life was slowing and I wasn’t praying as much.”  

Sarah Cate Bradley said, “COVID has affected us because we can’t go to church events like Rise Up (note from me:  Rise Up did host PopUp Rise Up and hopefully, God willing, will be back on track this May) and we can’t hold hands…and sometimes we can’t even attend church.

Gabe, Liam and Sarah Cate felt an emptiness, a change and they were forced to adjust.  Gabe spoke about distractions when watching services on-line.  He said some of them were things like being able to see what’s going on outside, his little brothers were playing with toys nearby and he was really comfy on that couch.  I, as an adult, had some of the same distractions.  The couch was really comfy.  I had to really make myself focus and participate.  It was hard for sure.  But all of us felt a need to worship God who loves us so much.  We had to go to Him no matter how hard it was.   

Relationships with friends was hard too.  First of all, you couldn’t see them in person.  So sometimes the posts weren’t as nice and respectful as they could have been.  Some young people have told me about the bullying they received.  With heightened emotions, some young people didn’t know how to handle those feelings – feelings of loneliness, despair, isolation.  If you’re feeling any of these things, reach out to someone and let them know.  Talk to your pastor, your parent or other adult you trust.  They can help.  

And prayer is important!  Take some time to go into a quiet place and be still.  Listen to God.  Talk to him.  Luke Loomis says, “ I pray best at the end of the day before I go to bed and during Mass.”  Sarah Cate says, “ I pray best in my room…because that’s where I have the most focus.”  Liam say’s, “I pray best in my room because it’s quiet and I can focus.” You too can find your quiet place and the place where you can focus.  

Our relationships and prayer should go hand in hand.  Liam and Sarah Cate both pray before making hard decisions.  Liam says, “I ask Him to help me make the right choices when I’m with my friends.:”  Sarah Cate told me of a time when a friend pressured her to do something she knew was wrong.  She said, “I prayed to God for strength to tell her no.”      

So as things begin to get back to normal.  Remember all these feelings.  Remember how you felt when you couldn’t go to church.  Remember the distance you felt from your family and friends and don’t take all of that for granted.  Praise God.  Connect to Him and connect to friends in a positive uplifting way.  

And one last note about prayer…even Liam finds a time and place.  It’s right before a test.  How many of you have prayed then?  I know I have! 

Rise Up lifts all of your in prayer.  See you at Rise Up soon!

Who Do You Say I Am?

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Jesus asked his disciples this very question, “Who do you say I am?” Some of them said he was John the Baptist, some Elijah some Jeremiah.  These were all prophets.  But when he asked Peter, Peter responded “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

Peter was a witness to Jesus’ public life.  He heard Him preach, he saw Him heal, he even saw Him raise the dead.  Peter knew Jesus was not like the other prophets he had read about and studied as a Jewish young man.  No, this man Jesus was different.  And by faith and encounter alone, Peter understood who Jesus really was.  

If Jesus asked me that same question today, “Who do you say I am?” What would I say?  What would you say?  Do we think of him as just a historical figure who lived a long, long time ago?  Do we think of him as a prophet on the same level as others who imparted their wisdom and spirituality on the world?  Or do we think of Him as the Son of the Living God?  

The Son of the Living God.   A God who lives with us…loves us… formed us in His likeness and gave us His Son as a living sacrifice for our sins.  And Jesus, his Son, who came and dwelt among us…taught, welcomed, chastised the powerful and uplifted the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead, and the best part of all…even after His death and resurrection, he wanted to remain with us through His Holy Spirit.  

So today, if we really let it happen, we will feel Jesus through prayer.  Let that feeling wash over you and transform your life.  Let your prayer be sincere and rest in His presence.  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and He is right here…right now… as present as he was over 2000 years ago.  Reach out because He is who He says He is!  

Summer Trips!
by Elena Schiavo

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Have you ever been white-water rafting? Have you ever had adoration under the stars covered in mud? Have you ever been to a dance party with 2500+ teens all adoring Our Savior? If not, then you probably haven’t gone to Covecrest or Steubenville…

Hi! My name is Elena Schiavo and I’m here to tell you about my summer trips that I’ll be attending this summer! For most of my high-school years I’ve had the privilege to go to Covecrest and Steubenville many times and I can’t tell you enough how much I love them! Covecrest is a Lifeteen week-long summer camp up in Tiger, Georgia. Each week, there’s 8 or 9 parishes from around the United States that come together to learn more about our faith and to have fun with people who share the same faith as you do! The first day you get there, you are welcomed by College Students who get assigned to your parish for the week, leading your parish small groups, doing all the activities with you, and helping you on your faith journey. Throughout the week. we go on many adventures you wouldn’t even imagine doing…climbing mountains, having Mass everyday in the middle of jaw-dropping scenery, talks and endless dance parties, family dinners, giant games filled with mud, white-water rafting…just to name a few.

Steubenville is a 3-day weekend conference either led by Franciscan University or Lifeteen.  There’s about 25 conferences around the United States with anywhere from 2000-7000 teens attending. I’ve been to Steubenville Conferences 3 times now and I’m excited to say that I will be attending Steubenville Atlanta this upcoming July! The weekend is filled with Catholic Speakers who come from all over the United States to give testimonies and to teach us more about our faith. We have many encounters with Christ through adoration and Mass! You may have heard people say it’s like a big RiseUp, well I can surely testify that that is spot-on! If you love RiseUp, you will love Steubenville even more! A 3-day long conference just like RiseUp, with 75% more teens! My faith journey started at a Steubenville Conference and I can assure you that if you haven’t gone to it, you are missing a great opportunity! I want to encourage you all to take the next step in your faith and attend one of these summer trips, or any summer trips your Parish may be attending this summer!

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When can I go and meet with God?”    -Psalms 42:2

It’s been a pleasure sharing with you and I hope to see you at one of these amazing trips!

“The Real World” – Change
by Lola Martin

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“​Change.​ ” That’s quite a daunting word, if you ask me. A lot of us don’t like change, especially when it seems like the world around us is set just the way we want it to be. Sometimes, change is necessary. As you grow, the world surrounding you is growing as well. Keeping the same mainstream lifestyle can seem a bit outdated, don’t you think?

In life, we are not only meant to grow, but flourish. You’re probably thinking, “​Those two words mean the same thing!”​ Ah, they are similar, but not quite the same.

By definition, the word, “​grow​” means,
“​To undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically; progress to maturity.​ ”

The word, “​flourish”​ means,

“​To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.​”

Up until recently, I never realized that there was a difference between those two ideas. By the time you read this, I will be preparing to start a new journey in my life: college. This may be a journey that you are starting within the next few months or years. The one question I often get asked is, “Are you scared?” 99.99% of the time, I respond with great confidence, “​No​.” But if I am being completely honest with myself, I most definitely have fears.

I am most content with how I’ve grown in my faith throughout high school. I have become very involved in my faith community, something that holds a dear place in my heart. However, I fear that something so DIFFERENT and VIBRANT as college, may distort the idea of “faith” for me. This might be something different for you. You may be afraid of leaving your home, your city, your family, or your friends. Though I will miss all of those things, I am most afraid of being stranded from my faith.

I will never forget the time my parish hosted a visiting priest (I feel horrible for not remembering his name). This priest held a Q&A session for the youth at one of our youth nights, and I remember asking him (still being four years away from college), “​How do you keep your faith in college?​” I vividly remember his response, “​You must take your faith and own it.”​

“​Own it? What does that even mean?​” my fifteen year-old self thought. Over the years, I learned that there is only one person in charge of me: Me! In college, the “Real World” as they say, no one is going to be watching over me. No one is going to tell me to go to Mass on Sunday’s. No

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one is going to tell me to read Scripture or pray the rosary. I have the free will to do it (or not to do it) all on my own.

As I realized this in high school, I did everything I could to build a firm foundation for my faith. Holding myself accountable, I continued to attend youth group weekly, I started going to Mass by myself, and I began to read Scripture as often as I could. I made my relationship with God a priority. Before I knew it, I had made my faith my own. It wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility to tell me what to do with it. It was mine, all mine.

Here I am, just weeks away from college. I no longer fear for my faith, for it is my own. I am eager to start a new life, in my home away from home. What is the purpose of growing, if you’re not going to flourish? What is the point of developing, if you’re not going to develop in a “healthy or vigorous” way? Don’t settle for a mediocre faith. God is eager to know you… so let Him know you. This new change in my life, college, is going to be OKAY, because change is OKAY!

Whether you are years or weeks away from college (or currently in college), I encourage you to seek the campus ministry on your campus. I’m positive that almost every campus has one. If yours doesn’t (bummer), find the nearest one off campus! Do so, whether you are far away from Christ or hold Him close to your heart. He will always be close to you, regardless.

Whatever you do, don’t stop searching for what will fully complete your heart in the end. God matters, and you matter to Him. He should matter to you because He created you. He knit you uniquely in your mother’s womb, and He knows exactly where He wants to take you in this crazy world of ours. He wants to show you. He wants to make Himself known to you. God matters, and you matter to Him.

Embrace change with an open heart. After all, it’s God’s work at hand.

“​You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you​.” ~ St. Augustine.

Faith > Fear.

Wonderful! Powerful!
by Sydney Barber

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Wonderful! Powerful!! Worship! Those are just a few words that came to my mind as the night began. It was my very first Rise Up event and I was left speechless. I could not believe how many people came out and shared a night of support, love, and faith. It was amazing to see so many parishes and family come together as one to share their love for Christ. 

I have never heard the worship music of ALOB but not long after they hit the stage, I found myself singing along with the crowd. I had not realized how big a hit he was. Everyone knew all his music and were singing along. They all rushed up to the stage with their arms linked and were belting out the words.

So, ALOB is just a nickname. His real name is Andrew Laubacher. It was amazing to hear his story of how he started his worship band. He went from the complete opposite side of faith and belief, to someone who found Christ through prayer and Church. He realized that he needed to put his life in Christs hands and see the wonderful power that he can do. 

We heard some great music that night, but that was not all. We also heard from an amazing inspirational speaker – Emily Wilson. She arrived, from California, a few hours early to prepare for the talk she was about to give. Emily is a vibrant, powerful, and amazing speaker who just had a baby four months ago! That really impressed me. Not only did she just have a baby and is now a new mom, but she brought him with her on this journey and exposes him to the wonderful work that God has called her to do. She expressed to us that it is not always easy doing the right thing and when God called her to follow him, she struggled at times. She felt that she was alone and she even lost friends along the way. However, the ones that supported her and believed in her made Emily that much stronger. She knew that this was the path God intended her to take.

Life is not a cake walk! Yes, you may struggle and yes, you may feel alone at times, but there is something greater God has planned for you and we all have to be a little patient. Just think, had Emily given in to her struggles and the peer pressure she felt in college so she could keep her “so called” friends that had abandoned her when she needed them the most, we may have not had the pleasure of listening and being inspired by her. 

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