by Veronica Fuentes
As young adults, seeking our vocation and God’s will for our future, it is easy to be confused with where we fit in. We can easily fall between the cracks, but this should not be the case! The church is strong, yet it is counting on its youth to do their part. St. Paul strongly exhorts Timothy to “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12). No matter if we are still living under our parent’s roof or living on our own (maybe even in a different town or city from our roots)…we are still part of the family of God. And as part of His family, we have a role to play. We still have a lot of work to do! But it is important to first look at where our faith journey started…
In 2011, Benedict XVI proclaimed the message, “We can only follow Jesus by the hand of the Church.” As young adults, we need to start within our own church; exploring and seeing where we fit in this large body of Christ. Pope Benedict was very clear when he said “let me remind you that following Jesus in faith is to walk with him in the communion of the church.” We cannot follow Jesus alone, we cannot be guided by the individualism that predominates our society! It is easy to fall into the temptation to go our own way, but we risk never finding Jesus Christ. Because it is in the context of the church where we will discover our gifts and talents and how they are to be used for his glory. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
For me, my faith journey with the Catholic Church began when I was 13 years old. That’s when this big family, called “Church,” decided to come and evangelize my small town in El Salvador. Before that, I knew God existed because my Mother had taught us how to pray the Our Father before going to bed, even though we did not attend church regularly. One of my neighbors invited me to a small church group that started close to my home. In the group, I was introduced to Jesus as being my most loving friend and since then he has been part of my life.
As the years past, my church community was there when I needed it the most. When I felt alone, when I needed the affection of a father, when I needed a brother or a sister, and when I needed advice, Godly Christian men and women surrounded me and wouldn’t let me go. God gave me the blessing of finding all this at my church and much more. I come from a family of 5 girls, each of us with virtues and defects, but with a huge mutual affection for one another. Anyone would assume that I could never have felt alone. But, during my adolescent years, I was the only one from my family who loved to go to church activities and things connected with God and his family. On the other hand, my sisters thought those things were boring and felt that they did not need to go church, to pray, or have a close connection with God. This produced a wall that separated my feelings, thoughts, desires and pursuits from their’s. I was always going in a direction contrary to the rest of my family. This is what Pope Benedict meant when he said that many tend to follow Jesus in their own and never find him. I was determined to find him and hold on tight.
I came to the United States in 2002, and I found myself away from my home parish, away from my country, away from my tradition and customs, but not away from my best friend, Jesus. Here, in my new adopted home, everything around me seems new, strange, and sometimes scary. However, when I first came here, to the place that many call the land of opportunity and where dreams can come true, I found myself asking this question: “where should I start?” Well, well, guess what!? I discovered what I needed in my new land by finding another part of my big family, THE CHURCH. That’s how I started and now I feel that I am reunited with what I left in my hometown. As a young adult, I feel that God has a lot to offer me through the community of my church. And it is through that community that I give my time, treasure, and talents back to God. So, to all my brothers and sisters in Christ I say that: Whenever one feels alone, needs to know God better, serve others, or just plain in need, the church should be the first place you look.
Veronica Fuentes is a Catechist for the religious education program at St. Monica Catholic Church in Indianapolis. She is currently working as an Instructional Assistant at Nora Elementary School, and working to obtain her bachelor degree in Education, K-12. She was born in El Salvador, Central America and has been living in Indianapolis for the last 11 years. She enjoys sharing her culture and talents with others.