Our Youth

Let Them Speak: How I Found Faith Again

During St. Edmund Prep H.S.’s Emmaus Retreat, students spend quality time  preparing dinner, cleaning, hanging out and praying together. (Photo Courtesy of Bridget Harte)

By Bridget Harte

“I discovered that when you find hope and love in the smallest of things, you’re finding God in the ordinary.” – Harte

I’ve always loved science and math. They’re concrete, finite and you never need to question your answers. Due to this, I’ve always struggled when it came to things that didn’t have a final answer, such as theory or religion. Religion has always been somewhat of a confusing thing for me, as I felt I never had those finite answers I needed. It felt as though sometimes I followed blindly ­– something I never did in any other part of my life. So, I struggled. Eventually, I lost my way in my faith altogether.

Harte

It remained this way until I was 16 years old. I was a junior at St. Edmund Prep, a Catholic high school in Sheepshead Bay, but still struggled in knowing what to believe, what I ​wanted​ to believe. I wanted to believe in something, but with all the difficulty that came that year – most notably the loss of my grandfather – it was really difficult to believe. I asked the question that most ask: If there is a God, then why do bad things happen to good people?

This all changed when I went on an Emmaus Retreat at St. Edmund Prep. It’s a weekend that, simply put, you spend as a family with a group of your peers and teachers. For three days, you do things any family would do: you cook and eat dinner together, wash dishes and simply spend time together, along with doing different group activities. In those three days, I saw God in so many little things – from singing and dancing with my peers and teachers in the kitchen, to watching one another help and spend time with others who may have needed the comfort of someone by their side. It seems so simple, but that weekend opened my eyes to what I wanted to believe.

I ​wanted​ to believe that love is stronger than any challenge. I ​wanted​ to believe that there’s life after the one we live on Earth. I ​wanted​ to believe in God – and I started to see Him in so many places. I discovered that when you find hope and love in the smallest of things, you’re finding God in the ordinary. This was something I needed to understand in order to start believing.

“Seeing God” seems like an impossible thing. But truthfully, God is found in life’s simplest moments. That’s what this retreat taught me: God is there, if you seek Him. He is present in the love that you share with those around you.

As I grew in my faith, I realized that for me, personally, a part of it was missing – I was never confirmed. Part of me was saddened when my friends would talk about faith and their Confirmation. I felt inadequate and behind in my faith, like I was less than them because I was years behind. While they were confirmed at 12 or 13, I was a 17-year-old who hadn’t been confirmed. However, I soon used what I had learned on retreat, and that brought me back to my faith.

A break during retreat at the Capuchin Youth & Families Ministries Center (CYFM) in Garrison, N.Y. The name “Emmaus Retreat” is based on the Bible passage of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus from Luke 24:13-35. (Photo Courtesy of Maria Trizzino)

I realized I was not less than my peers because I was not yet confirmed; I was just supposed to have more time. I waited until I was ready – I was able to come to terms with who I wanted to be in my faith-life and decided for myself to be confirmed. Now, I am saying yes to God.

Oftentimes, children at 12 or 13 don’t understand why they should be confirmed or feel as though they have to do it. But I truly learned that everything happens for a reason. I wasn’t confirmed when I was younger because God wanted me to make that decision on my own. He wanted me to have faith in my journey, who I am spiritually, and to turn to Him when I was ready. I am now.

My newfound path in my faith has given me unwavering strength and hope every day. Unlike when I was younger and bad things would happen and I would lose faith, I have grown to use my faith to heal and grow and to remain strong in those bad times.

Religion may not be concrete and it may not be finite. But sometimes, learning to question gives you the strength to grow – it helps you to find the true meaning you’re after and to just have faith in the path you’re supposed to take. So, the next step in my path is Confirmation, and I take that step with joy and an open heart.


Bridget Harte is a senior at St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay.

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