Towards the Youth Synod: “Hey, young person, Francis wants to hear you” •
Born and bred in Cape Town, South Africa – I am from a family of four. I’m 26 years of age, and I firmly believe in the family unit. I was raised in a very Catholic environment. I’m blessed to have both my parents as active role models in my life. Growing up, Sunday Mass was non-negotiable, and if I did miss it, my Mom would hound me to the confessional. I have to admit that in my teenage years, I didn’t enjoy going to church. I went because it was expected of me, and it pleased my Mom. It became too automatic and routine-like that I’d sit in Mass and not hear a thing Father said. My parents did their best to explain my faith to me growing up. Sunday school was ok, but when I was confirmed, I found myself in a limbo. I thought to myself, not considered a “child” anymore but I’m not an “adult” yet either. Where do I go from here then? Do I just attend Mass like I always have and hopefully get married? Start a family? Become a sacristan? What is the next milestone for me in my faith besides being confirmed? I asked myself so many questions. I wasn’t a very prayerful person either; I’d pray when I had to. I knew deep down this isn’t what faith is meant to feel and be like. A Schoenstatt Sister came to our Parish one Sunday and spoke about the Schoenstatt Women’s League. She said that if there are any women between the ages of 18-40 who are unmarried and have no kids, who’d like to join a network of women, that discuss various topics, we should attend a meeting.
Curiously, I went and I found myself three years later – in love with the Schoenstatt Community. This journey has in essence made me a better woman. A better colleague and friend. I get it wrong most days, days where things aren’t going well, but it all boils down to choice. And every day I choose Jesus and I choose Our Lady, I ask them to help me try again.
The culture that I find myself living through is very superficial. Relationships on all levels are being disregarded in a second. Instant gratification seems to be the norm. Women (not all, but some) have this mean spirit with one another, where we should be uplifting each other, instead of breaking each other down. Where we should be praying for one another, we speak ill of our fellow women/man. I get that not everyone comes from the same background or has the same life experiences– my biggest concern is that we fail to love simply because we fail to love ourselves in the midst of the adversities and triumphs of our lives.
I’d like to share my light by empowering the youth that are younger than me. In my community, teenage pregnancy is a major challenge. I come from a very disadvantaged past and my community reflects that. The majority of the youth are victims of gang violence, drug abuse under-age pregnancy. Re-enforcing that cycle once again. Social issues are very close to my heart, I don’t exactly know what it is I want to commit to but I know I have a passion for helping young people. I pray the Holy Spirit will lead me to this calling I know is there.
My experience of faith
Has it been easy? Not at all. Living for the glory of God and his Kingdom – the Bible makes it sound so easy. Do the right thing. Be obedient, keep the Sabbath day Holy, Honour your parents, don’t steal, don’t covet – the Ten Commandments, thank God we have them, but life and faith are not that simple. The daily challenges make me stretch. That annoying colleague. The train that’s always late! The house chores & constant deadlines. Balancing work & social lives. The scary and exciting world of dating. Studying while working. It gets to be a lot, and I found that if I don’t have a base, a safe place to just realise no matter where I am– God is, my faith would not have been this strong. I consider myself to be physically fit. I keep my body active nearly every day, that same way I have to keep my spirit fit and healthy. It needs food just as my physical body does. Prayer is the food. I found surrendering the constant need to control my life was the secret to a happy relationship with God. Trusting God has been the fuel to my faith, no matter what it was that I was going through, from break-ups to death, from disappointments to blessings. It was Prayer, Surrender and Trust that made up my formula for faith. Believing that it’s going to be ok – despite what’s going on externally.
My doubts and questions
We are losing our youths. That’s a fact. They get confirmed and move over to the vibrant / charismatic institutions. They do pretty well up until they get confirmed, then they simply don’t come. You get the few that come to Mass because of their parents (I know I was one). What are we planning on doing to become a Church that’s more inclusive and spiritually dynamic? Yes, I understand that it’s not about the priest or his sermon, nor is it about the hymns we sing – it’s about the consecration and memorial of Jesus’s death. It’s our celebrating the Eucharist but for an average 15 year old Church isn’t relatable.
My dream would be to have a workshop for women– a Christ focused initiative(s) that touches on
- Sex before marriage.
- The concept of birth control and what his actually means for women in the Church.
- Relationships and what the challenges are dating outside of your faith and religion.
- Mary and how she can be a source of strength for us.
- Mini RCIA refresher etc…