I have been a practising Catholic since I was eight years old. When I started to go to St Cuthbert’s in Blackpool, I felt so welcomed into the parish community. The priest and the deacon taught me so much about my faith and really inspired me to get involved in the parish. I became an altar server and began reading at Mass, something which I never thought I would be brave enough to do. Catholicism is really important in my life and it defines me as a person and it helps me to strive to follow the teachings of Jesus and become a better person.

I think that, in today’s society, being a young catholic is really exciting. There is so much to get involved in; some really fun and inspiring events. I have had the honour of attending pilgrimages to Lourdes on three occasions with the Lancaster diocese. These trips were a privilege as well as enjoyable. Originally, even the idea of going to Lourdes terrified me. My parish deacon originally persuaded me to go, but it was with a sense of trepidation because I was worried that I wouldn’t know anybody. But in Lourdes I met some amazing people who will be my friends for life. In Lourdes the youth team assist the less able pilgrims, also known as the VIPs, to have a relaxing and fulfilling time on pilgrimage. It is great to get to know these people and to hear the stories they have to tell. I also found it really moving to see a large community of Catholics, both young and old, from all over the world. I felt a great sense of unity while I was there, knowing that the thousands of other people there were so passionate about their beliefs and we all shared this enthusiasm for our faith.

I am currently taking a year out from study to give a year of volunteering at Castlerigg. In this role, I hope to inspire more young people to discover their faith and to be open about what they believe in. I think that it is easy for young people to be embarrassed by their faith and I even find myself holding back sometimes because I don’t know what other people will think. But I would encourage any young person to embrace their beliefs and to get involved. In the book of Deuteronomy, it says; ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and terrified because the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you.’ This scripture shows that in everything that we do, God will be with us, so we shouldn’t worry about being judged by others.

Katie (18), Blackpool

There are still spaces for young people (aged 15+) to join our Lourdes pilgrimage this summer. See our website, www.castleriggmanor.co.uk/new-events, for more information.