This week's column was written by our Youth Minister Theresa LoCascio and Associate Pastor Fr. Sean Magaldi.
I vividly remember, about two years ago, as a junior in college, contemplating the million-dollar question: “What does God want me to do in my life?” After much aggravation with not getting the answer I desired through prayer, I stumbled upon a quote by Fr. Pedro Arrupe that help guide me on the correct way of thinking. He states “Nothing is more practical than finding God than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way…fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” After reading the quote, it wasn’t that I had a divine revelation, but more of a clear outlook of what needed to happen to know if I was doing the will of God.
Focusing on the love of Christ - allowing it to impact me through the gift of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist at Mass and in Adoration, and imitating that love to my family, friends, and the teens I was volunteering to serve around me, I felt a peace of mind knowing God would take me where He wanted me to go. Now, after two years of working at St. Patrick’s, I can confidently say God brought me here for a reason. I have fallen in love with my job more than words can describe. This parish is captivating; I have felt nothing but the love of Christ radiate from you, the parishioners, to the teens that I serve on a weekly basis.
Thank you for your generosity in prayer during my journey here, as well as for the Steubenville NYC Conference. If you were also able to contribute on a financial level to help subsidize the cost for the 17 teenagers attending, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart because your impact means more than you will ever know. From hearing talks from the best Catholic speakers in the country (such as Jason Evert), going to Adoration, and participating in daily and Sunday Mass, the teenagers truly had a life-altering experience. When the group first walked into Carnesecca Arena, the look on their faces was priceless. Although they had somewhat of an idea, being in the reality of an arena with more than 2,000 teenagers with Ike Ndolo leading worship was truly amazing and blew them away. Between the sessions, the groups had great opportunities to bond and certainly got to know one another. The joy was unbelievable at some points, especially to me. Last year, I took a group of three students to the Steubenville NYC Conference. Jumping up to 17 made me slightly uneasy because it was much bigger than the group I had originally taken and in turn more details needed to be recognized. Each teen came from different walks of life, and I was unsure if the group would really come together.
Luckily, God has a greater plan than I set out for myself. He built relationships that I would never have thought were possible. Because the teens went in with an open heart, God was able to work through the fears and doubts that I had and really made it an experience to remember. After the pivotal Saturday night Adoration, we all had an opportunity to talk as a group, and many of the teens expressed how they have never entered into prayer like that in their life. Also, I prayed for God to send me who I needed to help make caring for the teens possible and He sent me four wonderful young adults and one great priest. Without the help of Elise Werner, Stephanie Muncy, Tommy Imbornoni, Chris Heller, and Father Sean, I wouldn’t have been able to venture out to this trip on my own. We encouraged the teens to come home, with the fire they had in their heart, to share the experience they had with their families and friends and hopefully light the fire in others. I recently received a message from a recent graduate of St. Patrick’s, and she highlighted her experience by stating “I’m so glad I went and I’m looking forward to next year. My life is truly changed.” After our trip to St. John’s University last weekend, I am very excited to embark on the journey and implement Life Teen at St. Patrick’s.
Before I came to St. Patrick’s, I had heard mixed reviews about the Steubenville Conferences. I was unsure of taking students, and last year my brother told me to bring a few and get a sense of it. As a result, Theresa and I took three students, which convinced me this was something that we needed to promote. After presenting it to our high school students and eighth graders, many wanted to go, and 17 signed up. Once we had our group together, we asked for prayers and a financial contribution. Your support and generosity humbled me. As Theresa stated before, words cannot express how grateful I am for your help.
When we arrived at St. John’s we had to wait to register. The teens were outside waiting in the hot sun. After an hour we got pizza. The food satiated their hunger for a little while. As we handed out T-shirts and room keys, we realized one of the students didn’t receive a key. As a result, the teens had to wait another hour. There is only so long pizza can satisfy someone, as "man does not live on bread alone" (Bible joke). They were getting anxious and wanted to put their stuff in their rooms. Eventually, everyone had a key and we moved along. Dinner came and we waited on long lines to eat hamburgers and hot dogs, not of Shake Shack’s quality, but not the worst I’ve ever had either. I could tell the teens were starting to get restless, maybe even questioning what they had gotten themselves involved in. Theresa and I gave them a pep talk, and we began our trek to the opening conference at Carnesecca Arena. There was a pit in my stomach filled with fear and doubt. I began to pray, “God, please let them meet you this weekend, please let them have fun, and please don’t let me lose anyone.” We walked into the arena, which looked more like an EDM concert was about to begin than a Catholic retreat. Immediately I saw their demeanor change. One of the teens looked at me and said, “Is this what the conference is going to be like?” I responded, “Yes.” She looked at her friend and began to jump with excitement. Immediately all my fears were cast aside and I calmed down. Throughout the weekend I was inspired by our teens. Their patience, their prayer, and their joy were all contagious. I am so filled with love and gratitude. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and your financial support. I want to thank Chris, Elise, Stephanie, and Tommy for their help over the weekend. I want to thank Theresa for organizing everything over the last several months. Without her hard work before the conference, none of us would have been able to go. Finally and most importantly I want to thank God who continues to pour out His graces on me and on our parish. God bless each one of you.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. SeanBACK TO LIST