How many young people are ever given the opportunity or take the time themselves to consider their lives in terms of a vocation? I am only seventeen and know how hard it can be for young people to decide what it is they want to do in life. We want guidance…so why not ask God!
Somewhere between mid-first year and beginning second year I took a massive interest in Religious Education. My teacher was a great inspiration, and I fell in love with the subject. I cannot really put my finger on anything in particular that made me take so much interest in Religious Education, but I instantly loved the subject. However, the practical living out of my faith, my involvement in the diocese and parish, did not take place until about fifth year.
On April 5th 2019, my mummy showed me the advertisement for the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick and I went. Whilst at Croagh Patrick I met a lot of young people who were very like myself and this gave me a sense of contentment, knowing there were others like me for whom faith is important. There were many conversations which consisted of school, exams, and the future. I met people who desired to enter childcare, veterinary, the priesthood and some people who were not quite sure yet. It was an eye-opening experience.
I decided that I wanted to teach Religious Education in secondary schools and this year at the annual sleep-out in Saint Eugene’s Cathedral, I was inspired by the Derry Diocesan Youth leaders, who encouraged me to think about Youth ministry as well, which I have decided to take on board. I feel compelled and bound (in a positive way) to accept and carry out what I have been called to do by God. There is a real sense of contentment and belonging in vocation that helps me to stay committed. In discovering my vocation, I have had to face quite a bit of teasing coming from fellow students. However, that was a sacrifice I had to make.
On the 25th July, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. James the Apostle and in October this year, Venerable Carlo Acutis (an Italian teenager) will be beatified. For me these two people are inspirational because I feel that they reveal the gift of our ‘Vocation’ in a wonderful way.
Venerable Carlo Acutis said, “everyone is born as an original but many die as a photocopy”. I understand this to mean that every person is called to do something amazing and unique for God with their lives. However, the motive behind every mission is exactly the same.
Take for instance, the example of Saint James, who was called so unexpectedly at the sea of Galilee. James was called to follow Christ and be His servant. James gave up his comfortable lifestyle and followed Him. Likewise, the soon to be ‘Blessed’ Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager, who gave up his life in love for God and who died at the age of fifteen from Promyelocytic Leukaemia in October 2006.
This young man is an extraordinary example for us today. His life demonstrates, for me, how faith is still very alive in today’s world, and that faith and modern-day lifestyles can perfectly go together hand in hand. Carlo had a great interest in technology and he used his God-given talents/skills to set up a website called “The Eucharistic Miracles”. He used this website to archive all the recognised miracles that have ever occurred, in relation to the Eucharist. At the same time, like most teenagers, Carlo Acutis played video games, the saxophone, and sports but he always made sure to make time for God.
Saint James once said, “Faith is dead without good works.” In other words, James is saying that faith and action must go together. The beauty of vocation usually takes a lifetime to unfold. It does not always seem clear, but we must not be afraid to try new things. Take for instance, our key workers who have shown their vocation massively during lockdown, where they have sacrificed their own safety to provide for us. Think of our doctors and nurses, who have shown their vocation in saving people’s lives and trying to find a new vaccine. ‘Good’ is found everywhere ‘big’ or ‘small’, and faith is the key element when it comes to our vocation in action. Also, it has been proven to still be alive today-we just need to open our eyes!
Even though there is no need to rush these things, why not ask God, now, through prayer and conversation? Where have you been called to? The way I see it, is that the fact that God is calling you to Him, so why not ask Him for guidance? Believe me, He would be happy to help.
Hollie Frystal, is a student at Holy Cross College, Strabane. She is an active member of her parish, Saint Mary’s, Melmount, in the Diocese of Derry and is currently working towards her Pope John Paul II Award. The photograph of the Church at the top of Croagh Patrick, is one taken by Hollie on the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage in 2019.