The Catholic faithful located in the 24 counties that make up the Archdiocese of Louisville have a real gem in their midst — its young people.
The youth in the archdiocese consistently demonstrate the Christian values of service, compassion and hospitality.
In a culture where many young people are self-absorbed, we should note — and commend — the hundreds of our young people who look beyond their sphere of existence and reach out to others.
Earlier this year a story appeared in The Record that chronicled the efforts of a group of students from Trinity High School.
Those students hand-chiseled tombstones for the indigent buried in one of the city’s potter’s fields. In reading The Record each week, it’s easy to spot countless examples of the good our young people do on a routine basis.
Chad Hargadon, a Trinity senior, said he hoped that by making a permanent grave marker, those buried in the potter’s fields will be shown the dignity they deserve. It’s a commendable attitude, one that reflects well on not just Hargadon, but his school, his church and his upbringing.
Another story featured in an edition of The Record last February focused on students from Holy Cross High School who are part of its immersive service-learning program.
The story related the efforts of several students who volunteer at Dreams with Wings, a day center for adults with developmental disabilities. One student said the experience was “hands-on” and said it made him feel that he was “making a difference.”
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of service projects teens in the archdiocese take part in each year. In addition to service-related activities, our young people also attend retreats and leadership workshops which serve as opportunities for reflection and prayerful witness.
One of these retreats — Quest — was held last month at Bellarmine University. Nearly 350 young people and adult volunteers attended the daylong youth rally.
The theme of the biennial retreat was “Stand up, reach out and serve others.”
Pope Francis shared much the same sentiment in his address to the one million youth who gathered on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for World Youth Day in July of 2013.
“Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole church and that includes you,” Pope Francis told the young people.
Members of the archdiocesan Youth Advisory Board (YAB), along with archdiocesan staff and youth ministers, dedicated a great deal of time to planning Quest.
Fifty-two teens from 26 parishes (and all nine Catholic high schools in the archdiocese) make up the Youth Advisory Board. Their duties included selecting the theme, theme song and Scripture verse (Gal. 5:13b-14) for the rally. They also identified the images of heroes and heroines of Catholic social teaching to be displayed, and they served as emcees, lectors and eucharistic ministers.
Mirna Lozano, a parishioner of St. Dominic Church in Springfield, Ky., and a YAB member, said that by planning events such as Quest she has learned the importance of time management, leadership and determination.
Lozano, who attends Bethlehem High School, also expressed her interest for more adults to get involved with the youth of their parish. That’s something we should take to heart.
In an address to Asian youth earlier this year, the Holy Father said “as young Christians, whether you are workers or students, whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the church, you are also a necessary and beloved part of the church’s present.”
As Pope Francis so eloquently put it, our youth should not only be relegated to the future of the church. They are the church today, and we should thank God for them.
Record Staff Writer