November 7, 2014

‘As a teenager, I know that I must stay focused on God’

(Editor’s note: High school students from across the archdiocese attended the Indianapolis Catholic Youth Conference on Nov. 2 at Marian University in Indianapolis. The Criterion shares students’ stories of how their faith in God has touched and changed their lives.)

By John Shaughnessy

Braylan GuynnAt 17, Braylan Guynn appreciates all the sacrifices and hard work that his mother has endured in trying to create a good life for him and his two siblings.

“I am the product of a single parent,” says Braylan, a member of St. Rita Parish in Indianapolis. “I have a brother that is 14 and a little sister that is 6. My mom has worked so hard to make sure that we had clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, and food when we come home from school. Her job situation was not always so good, but after many years of working hard and trying, she has a great job. We were able to get a home with our own rooms, which I am very grateful for.”

Still, Braylan is most thankful for another gift he has received from his mother, Angela Guynn.

“My faith means a great deal to me,” he says. “I was baptized as an infant. My mom decided she wanted me to grow up in the Catholic faith.

“When I became older, I received the sacrament of the Eucharist in second grade and then the sacrament of confirmation. At that time, it was my decision to say ‘yes’ to my faith, ‘yes’ to God, ‘yes’ to my Church community, and ‘yes’ to myself. It was time for me to step up in my parish to do more, to be a role model and to give more of myself.”

He says that commitment is especially needed when there is “so much hatred” and “so much violence in our society.”

“As a teenager, I know that I must stay focused on God. It will keep me away from the easy peer pressures of the world,” says Braylan, a senior at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

“I am looking forward to my next journey. In order for me to move forward and to reach my goals, I know I must continue to put God first, pray and surround myself with good-hearted friends.”

Braylan’s commitment to his future, his family and his faith is also evident in his thoughts on how to strengthen the faith of young people in the Church.

“One thing that would help make our faith stronger in our lives with the Church is to value our opinion, to show us that we have a voice. Encourage and support us, even if we are wrong. Talk to us. Involve us more in Church services. Sometimes, I feel disconnected. Maybe other teenagers do at times as well.

“I believe there needs to be a Bible study for Catholic teenagers with youths from other parishes. As Catholic youths, we can engage more in the Mass, work more with our youth minister, continue to go to CCD classes, and really just be more involved with and learn more about our faith.”

An attitude of gratitude helps, too, he says.

“Having the support of my family and Church family makes all the difference in the world. I am very blessed to be who I am because of my mom and my family.” †

 

Related story: ‘Can people see Jesus in you?’: At ICYC, teenagers are encouraged to trust God, do everything out of love

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