I’m Andy, I am 21 years old and I’m originally from Hartlepool. This is my 3rd year volunteering in Youth Ministry. I spent my first year in Hexham & Newcastle Diocese, my second year in Northern Ireland, Derry Diocese, which then led me to my third year working in youth ministry, in Lancaster Diocese.

For the first 16 years of my life I was an atheist - I had no faith and had not experienced God. My first experience of God came when I was at my lowest. It came about through my anger, due to some of the things that were going on in my life. I was 16, on a school retreat and there was an option to pray in Ampleforth monastery in the early morning. Initially I had no intention of going, but somehow I found myself up, ready and going, purely because I had nothing else to do. In my prayer I found myself screaming at God and blaming him for everything that had happened in my life. When I went home God had answered all of the prayers that I needed answering at that time and had changed my home life around.

I was so joyful because of this that I had to share it with my school chaplain. As years went on I became more involved with the Church and school chaplaincy. My school chaplain persuaded me to join the youth community at YMT (Hexham & Newcastle Diocese) to carry on exploring my faith and to share what I have experienced with young people. This was the time I really felt I could give my life to Him and I finally decided that I wanted to enter into the Catholic Church, allowing God to finally confirm me into his family.  I’m not sure how or why I ended up doing what I was doing, but all I knew was that I was falling in love with God and working with young people.

Through sharing my experience, I really want young people to grasp onto how loved they really are, and that they can really discover this through saying, yes. Yes, to God…as a young person it can be so hard to do this, whilst all the distractions are going on around us. There are so many expectations in the world, telling young people who they should be, through media, society etc. It’s such a blessing to be working with young people and helping them to see who they really are, which is a precious child of God.

Andy, 21, Keswick