Rachel, 14 & Josie, 16, Fleetwood

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Rachel writes: I never really appreciated my faith. I was born into a Catholic family, so going to the Neo-Catechumenal Way and church was pretty much the norm. In times of trouble I knew I could always turn to God for help. My beliefs were never something to hide. But when other people such as friends or acquaintances found out that I was a Catholic there would be mixed reactions. Some would be cool with it, but others would say things such as, “So, you go to Church every Sunday?” with a puzzled expression on their faces. I would go a deep shade of red, mumble a “yes” and shuffle away. Someone even refers to me as their ‘Catholic’ friend! (I guess I should take that as a complement!) But when someone looks at you like you’re an alien just because you believe in something they don’t, it kind of hurts. I soon discovered that day after day, week after week I was becoming ashamed of my faith. But in 2012 that all changed. I went to an event called “Flame” which brought young members of the Church together to listen to inspirational people in Wembley Arena. As I stepped into the arena I saw over 10,000 young people smiling and enjoying themselves. I just felt so happy! I wasn’t alone; I’m part of something huge! I learnt so much that day and I’m truly grateful to every single one of those 10,000 people for showing me that I’m part of a beautiful community. I discovered that sometimes I just have to push everything into God’s hands and take a leap!

Josie writes: Being a young Catholic today is quite hard. I believe, as a Catholic, I should love my neighbour and practise the faith but there are many distractions and temptations in the modern day. I have always gone to Catholic schools. Even though the schools were faithbased, some of the children were not practising and had little knowledge of the faith; this made it difficult to be a witness. Name calling terms, such as ‘Bible Bashers’, are still used today; this also affected my confidence in evangelising. However, I have a personal connection to God and I can call on Him in prayer and He will respond, sometimes in a way I didn’t expect. Moreover, there are Catholic youth events such as Flame and retreats like Castlerigg which renew my faith and give me the opportunity to express and share my faith and be amongst other young Catholics. Being a young Catholic today is quite hard but, with God’s help, I can live my life knowing that He will help and guide me.