My name is Sharon Weerasuriya. I’m 20 years old, from Enfield, North London. Faith has always been an important part of my life, as I was brought up from a practising Catholic family. My family came from a “Catholic Charismatic” prayer group. During my childhood, I lived in Italy, UK and Sri Lanka whilst being brought up in this prayer group.  I always found it easy to accept faith and religion because it was being practised at home and school, and I learnt to accept it at face value. However, as I was growing up life started to throw its challenges with peer pressure and bullying at high school, which made me struggle with my faith. I hadn’t really understood how much Jesus loves me and wants to help me. From that moment, I started to pray feeling comfortable sharing my vulnerabilities and challenges in prayer to God. My life wasn’t perfect, I had just migrated from Italy to the UK, I didn’t have many friends because learning English was a new challenge for me and there were other barriers. However, I knew that I wanted to live my life for God, and only his love can make me happy. I joined the Chaplaincy team in my high school, and took part in many school events, I was part of the Gospel Choir and this brought me closer to God. I even aspired to be holy, and always set a good example to others. In my second year of university, I started joining Catholic Youth Events, and I met some really great friends, and every month we come together to pray and talk about God’s word to other young people.

After I finished second year at university, I decided to do a placement year as part of my degree. Originally, I was planning on volunteering in a Mental health clinic in London. However, as I was praying about it, I knew I could do something amazing this year, but I didn’t know what. CAFOD was advertising a Young Leadership Programme called “Step into the Gap”, where you learn and talk about CAFOD’s work in retreats for young people in a Retreat Centre. I thought this was an amazing opportunity because I knew I could put my faith into action inspiring young people about social justice, and make a difference in the lives of the young people I encounter. Volunteering at Castlerigg Manor, has been amazing because I have changed and grown as a person in many ways in faith, and character. I hope I take these positive experiences, and bring more people to Christ.

Sharon, 20