Paris, 19, Barrow-in-Furness

Paris, 19, Barrow-in-Furness

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Being a catholic has definitely played a huge part in my life. Choosing to prioritise faith over what is expected of a person my age in this society has been difficult, but at the same time so rewarding.

Catholicism is all I've ever really known. I was baptised, made my first holy communion and confirmed in the parish I've spent my whole life involved in. However, it wasn't really until my mid-teens that I truly started to understand what my faith meant to me and just how important it is. Being brought up in catholic primary and secondary school exposed me to the teachings and word of Jesus Christ, allowing me to have a good understanding from a young age. However, after a while I felt as though I was stuck in a habit of just attending mass and not taking that next step on my faith journey.

For me, in terms of my faith, 2014 was a real turning point for me. As a year 10 of St. Bernard's High School, Barrow, I attended my first ever retreat to Castlerigg manor, still not really sure of what I could expect. That week is still one of the most poignant moments of my life. During the week I was encouraged to open up and ask questions about faith. I learnt so much about prayer and the relationship we all have with God, ultimately leaving me to feel much closer to him. Castlerigg gave me the confidence to go forward and to be proud of my faith and inspired me to push myself and take the next step along my faith journey. Encouraged by this retreat, in 2015 I attended a pilgrimage to Lourdes with Lancaster Diocese and Castlerigg Manor, and in 2016 I attended World Youth Day in Krakow. World Youth Day has helped me especially as a young Catholic in today's society. Being amongst two-million other young Catholics was indescribable. Listening to the words of Pope Francis helped me to realise the importance of the role young Catholics play in our communities.

All these experiences have helped shape me into the person I am today. In August I started as a volunteer at Castlerigg Manor and I will spend this year in youth ministry and living in community. I am extremely excited of what this year will bring and I am looking forward to where my faith journey will bring me next.

Paris

Anna, 19, Preston

Anna, 19, Preston

"Being a Catholic seems so cool!"

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I've got to admit - these were not words I ever expected to hear from my new, non-Catholic friend at uni.

Before starting university, I was most nervous about how I would practice my faith 'on my own' - without the support of my family and parish back home. I knew from the start that I would never hide my faith, but at the same time was worried about how people would react.

Looking back a year later, I have absolutely no idea why I was so nervous! During my first year, I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities to strengthen my faith and, through my university's Catholic Society and Christian Union, I have made so many wonderful friends who have similar morals to myself and who are able to encourage me in my faith.

Additionally, events such as the CaSSU (Catholic Societies of Southern Universities) Autumn retreat, Flame, Leeds Youth 2000, Celebrate, and many others have helped me grow my faith and make many Catholic friends in the process.

When I have been away on retreat, I was always open with the girls I lived with about where I had been for the weekend. They would always ask me questions and were always eager to hear about what I'd been up to. My post-retreat faith 'buzz' really opened me up to their questions, and it was great that they showed such an interest. This definitely made it a lot easier to be open about my faith.

With my first year at university over, I realise that there has never been a moment when I felt that I was practicing my faith 'on my own'. The friendships I have made this year with both Catholics and non-Catholics alike have made me more confident in my faith and more open to sharing it with others.

So yes... Being a Catholic is cool!

Rachel, 21, Kirkham

Rachel, 21, Kirkham

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Hi I’m Rachel - I have just finished my Sport degree in Leeds so have moved back home to Kirkham and my Parish of the Holy Cross. In my family we have two great Lancaster Diocese Priests (Fr Michael Murphy and the late Fr Bernard Hearty) as relatives so growing up around priest friends has been unusually normal to me and my family. I have spent many occasions socialising with priests of the Diocese and being heavily involved in Church life.  Although this seemed normal for me – I’m aware that for others it’s far from normal! For me, the only way to follow my faith fully was to embrace in the Sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation. Additionally, having gone to a Catholic Primary School, High School and Sixth Form College my faith was always around me. It wasn’t until University I had to fend for myself (both faith and food wise!)

At University I was thrown into the big wild world with many paths to choose from, though I have stayed on the straight and narrow because of my faith. It is highly important for me to acknowledge that my Catholic friends and Priests that have supported me, have played a part in this. They continually help me choose the right path. Many of these friends I met at the youthful age of 16 from numerous Castlerigg retreats and Diocese Pilgrimages near and far. I have met people from Barrow, Fleetwood, Preston, Whitehaven, Lancaster and Workington and we have all been brought together through our faith. 

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I understand that we are all at different places on our faith journey and it is vital to have the right support network behind us, whether that be family or friends. It is important to maintain our faith and take forward steps. This for me is done through retreats, whether that be Lancaster Youth Service or Youth 2000 ones across the country, where I have the opportunity to meet other young Catholics today and remember we are all on a journey.

Now I am back at home ready to embark on further education or a graduate job – I still am heavily reliant upon my faith friends through prayer, chat and meet ups which I can only thank the Lancaster Youth Service for!

Lizzie, 25, Blackpool

Lizzie, 25, Blackpool

Faith has always been an important part of my life. I was baptised in St Kentigern’s Catholic Church, Blackpool and attended St Kentigern’s Catholic Primary School right next door...

Andy, 21, Castlerigg

Andy, 21, Castlerigg

I’m Andy, I am 21 years old and I’m originally from Hartlepool. This is my 3rd year volunteering in Youth Ministry...

Harry, 19, Preston

Harry, 19, Preston

"3 Million?! I didn’t realise there were 3 million young Catholics in the world!” This was the usual response when I told my friends and family back home about my experience of going to Krakow...

Paul, 19, Hanover, Germany — now at Castlerigg

Paul, 19, Hanover, Germany — now at Castlerigg

I became a Catholic because my parents are Catholic and my grandparents too. It was not my own decision to go to church, one that happened because of my family. It was interesting and kind of boring at the same time...

Hannah, 17, Barrow-in-Furness

Hannah, 17, Barrow-in-Furness

The ten days we spent in Kraków for World Youth Day was an amazing experience that I will never forget...

Mary, 21, Preston

Mary, 21, Preston

Being a young Catholic can sometimes be tough. I have always been firm in my faith, but a few years ago I realised that I was living separate lives...

Aoife, 20, Preston

Aoife, 20, Preston

Being a young Catholic is a wonderful rollercoaster ride, that can be fantastic and terrifying at the same time. When I look back at my faith journey over the past couple of years, I can’t help but be astounded...

Tom, 18, Castlerigg

Tom, 18, Castlerigg

My mum once told me that you know a religion is strong when you can have a good laugh at it...

Anna, 18, Preston

Anna, 18, Preston

Being a young Catholic today can often be a struggle in a world where increasingly more people do not associate themselves with any religion...

Alex, 21, Castlerigg

Alex, 21, Castlerigg

For many years, seeing people filled with joy and happiness terrified me. All the calmness and wisdom radiating from them seemed to be alarming and very suspicious...

Anke, 23, Castlerigg

Anke, 23, Castlerigg

November 2011: the feast of Christ the King. I had made the decision that I wanted to be a Christian just a few months ago, inspired by people in a non-denominational church...

Claire, 18, Whitehaven

Claire, 18, Whitehaven

The main thing that I have discovered being a young Catholic today is that I am not alone. There is a whole world out there full of young Catholics just like me!

Lauren, 19, Fleetwood

Lauren, 19, Fleetwood

The other day I came across a passage within the Bible from Luke which stated, ‘He astonished the crowds’, and unexpectedly it got me thinking more deeper about the message God was wanting to give to me...

Misha, 22, Castlerigg

Misha, 22, Castlerigg

Hi, my name is Misha. I was born in Ukraine and at a young age my parents got divorced, and my father died shortly after that. Life wasn’t very pleasant at the beginning and so much pressure for my mother...

Beth, 16, Poulton

Beth, 16, Poulton

When Father Collins first talked to me about the opportunity to go to Lourdes as a volunteer in July this year it was something that vaguely interested me...

Alice, 16, Barrow

Alice, 16, Barrow

My faith has always been a part of my life. I've been brought up in a Catholic family. I've been baptised, confirmed and made my Holy Communion. I've attended a Catholic primary and secondary school and I've always gone to Church. I always enjoyed and appreciated my faith without truly understanding it...