July 15, 2016

Serra Club vocations essay

Student has powerful experience of God’s mercy at NCYC

(Editor’s note: The following is the fifth in a series featuring the winners of the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2016 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)
 

By Bayley Wade (Special to The Criterion)

Bayley WadeNovember of 2015 was the lowest point of my life. The burdens of the past few months bore down on my shoulders heavier than ever before.

I was struggling with the loss of a serious relationship. I felt my friendships fading. And I began distancing myself from God. I felt abandoned and lacked a purpose.

I desired happiness, but felt it was unattainable. My life was full of so many amazing things, but my heart had never felt so vacant. I was the shell of my former self, and I was desperate to be filled. I turned to writing, but words brought no relief.

I talked to my parents and then to my doctor, and their conclusion was that I was suffering from situational depression. However, I knew no therapy or medication could heal me, for this was not a bodily hurt. It was spiritual.

In a strange twist of fate, I got a call from a friend saying her sister had just dropped her spot for attending the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC). I had wanted to attend NCYC since my freshman year. However, I missed registration and all available slots to attend had been filled—that is, until I received that call. My friend told me the spot was mine if I wanted it.

This decision presented me with great internal conflict. I wanted to go, but at the time my relationship with God was almost non-existent. So, it felt wrong to take the opportunity from someone else. I also didn’t want to face the stress that came with missing school.

However, something deep within me was calling me to go. I never knew that this call would change my life forever.

When I walked through the doors of Lucas Oil Stadium, loud cheers erupted throughout the arena. I was immediately engulfed in a crowd of young Catholics dancing and worshipping God. I was overwhelmed with a sensation I had never experienced before.

Suddenly, the lights dimmed and a priest appeared on center stage and 25,000 rowdy teens fell silent. It was the kind of silence that was powerful enough to move mountains.

The priest invited us to receive the sacrament of reconciliation if we wanted. Now I have only received the sacrament of penance when I had felt obligated to do so. I was never one to just go on my own.

However, I suddenly felt myself being drawn to one of the priests sitting in the row behind me. I went to him and immediately confessed my sins, laying all the struggles of the past months before him.

He looked at me and smiled, and for the first time in forever I no longer felt alone. He placed his hands on my head and as he absolved me from my sins, I began to cry.

I literally felt the sensation of a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I told him this, and he said, “God has heard your call.”

I have never experienced so much mercy. Through this priest, God had brought me peace, and I once again was filled.
 

(Bayley and her parents, Tim and Alysia Wade, are members of Holy Family Parish in New Albany. She completed the 11th grade at Our Lady of Providence Jr./Sr. High School in Clarksville last spring, and is the 11th-grade division winner in the Indianapolis Serra Club’s 2016 John D. Kelley Vocations Essay Contest.)

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