I would love to introduce you to my adopted sister Laura, who agreed to do a guest blog post for me about her faith. Check out her blog and go say hi. Enjoy!
Howdy, I’m Laura and I have a problem. But, I can assure you, it’s a good problem. You see, I have a tendency to get a little too involved in mass.
It’s been that way as long as I can remember. The moment I was in kindergarten and old enough to join the children’s choir at church, I was there. That year, I tried out to be one of the big leads and totally choked, but that didn’t stop me. Every year, in September, when it was time to start practicing for the big Christmas season, which included Christmas Eve mass and a big Christmas concert the week before. I loved it, every Christmas, I would be on such a Jesus high, and not for the presents, but because I just loved going to church.
When I turned eight in second grade, I signed up to become an alter server, because I wanted to know what mass was like up on the alter. On the other side. I did that every year until freshman year of high school.
Flash forward to fifth grade religious education, I was the smarty pants. I knew all the answers. I was the teacher’s pets. Mr. and Mrs. D were the teachers I absolutely adored. The next year, I was still the smarty pants and I joined the youth group.
The youth group became my core for a few years and they introduced me to DCYC. Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, aka the coolest thing to hit the world, well, since Jesus. The first year I went was the summer after sixth grade and I’ve been every year since.
High school was when I really blossomed into my faith. Freshman year, I finally outgrew the seasonal children’s choir to join the year long (well, excluding summers) adult choir. I went from a little choir kid to a full time choir woman, cantoring skills included. Singing at mass sparked an interest that I couldn’t avoid. Using the talents God had given me to praise Him? I couldn’t not do that!
On top of singing in the adult choir, the night I was confirmed was the first time I was an extraordinary eucharistic minister. Between the end of tenth grade up until I moved to college, there were several times where I would sing in the choir and be an extraordinary eucharistic minister in the same mass.
My confirmation dress, and my confirmation sponsor.
Whenever there was a church mission, wether for Lent or Advent, I was usually there, rain or shine. In fact, weather never stopped me from going to church.
The most memorable mass I’ve ever gone to was Easter Vigil 2011, and you guessed it, I was singing. The mass started out in candlelight, and after we turned on the lights, we made it about half an hour before a nasty storm knocked the power out for good. The whole church relit their candles and we finished mass in candlelight. One of the coolest experiences ever.
I was blessed to grow up in an amazing church and I really dumped my heart and soul into it. I was surrounded by support, and I was always volunteering in one way or another. Junior and Senior years of high school, I went back to the classroom and taught fifth grade religious education with Mr. and Mrs. D, the same teachers I had (I also sang with Mrs. D in the church choir). I look up to this couple as my third set of grandparents (they just don’t know it!). Between them, my youth minister, the whole choir, my choir director, Denise, my parents, and many friends, I built a faith that has become rock solid, and I’m always eager to volunteer within the mass. I can’t just sit there in the pew and not participate.
I was so busy volunteering, it never occurred to me that I was actually making a difference. Until last summer. It was my last DCYC as a participant (I can go back as a chaperon). Every year, the diocese gives out the St. Timothy Award, the highest award a young adult can receive from his or her diocese. I remember sitting there in sixth grade, seventh grade, and every year thinking wow, I wonder what those kids actually do to get it. They must be constantly at their church. I didn’t know anything about how the diocese possibly picked only five or six people to receive that award.
Then this summer, I was sitting there, listing to them say the names. The director of the youth ministry for the diocese listed off names, and of coursed we all clapped. It was always amazing to see people who were just as involved in church as I was.
Then, the director turned around and apologized for forgetting two people. He read off one name.
And then he butchered my last name.
For a moment, I was kind of stunned. Me? Why me? What had I possibly done that made me deserve the award? When I walked up to the stage to receive my fancy frame and plaque, the director gave me a hug and told me to keep up the good work.
What did he know about what I did? I was floored! He knew about me?
Like I said, I got a nice little plaque and a certificate that was framed. The certificate stayed home because it was big, but the plaque came with me to college. It sits on my desk and has a verse from St. Timothy.
Let no one have contempt for your youth,
but set an example for this who believe,
in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
- 1 Timothy 4:12.
When I went home after the conference, I told my mom flat out, I didn’t understand why I deserved the award, I mean, I hadn’t done anything special!
Then my mom proceeded to list all the ways that I was involved in the church.
And then I started to kind of get a glimpse of why I got the award. And because I was nosy to see how the process worked to get the award, like any typical teenager, I googled it and found the application to nominate someone for the St. Timothy Award and was kind of stunned. I mean, I qualified for all of that? I guess when I was so busy spreading God’s love, I didn’t realize that I was putting in all this time and effort. It just made me happy. Whether it was singing, or giving the eucharist to someone at mass, or seeing the crazy kids I taught, church was my home away from home.
Even now, when I go back to visit, I still sing with choir. I still stay after mass and help out wherever I’m needed.
So, call me crazy, but I like my church a lot.
And I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for anything.
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