November 14, 2008

2008 Youth Supplement

Hard times can draw young people closer to God

By Linnea Miller (Special to The Criterion)

Many people experience difficult moments in their young lives.

For some, it can be the devastating loss of a loved one.

For others, it can be the trauma of moving to a new city or a new school, and leaving behind familiar places and close friends.

In those hard times, it’s natural for a person to feel alone and upset. In times of need, it’s also natural for young people to turn to God for help.

Indeed, the stories of three Catholics show the difference that God can make when all seems lost, even drawing people closer to him.

Consider the story of Margaret Miller, a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute. When she was 18, her mother died.

“I was [at] such a young age,” Miller recalls. “I had just graduated from high school, and had an elderly father. The only thing I had left from my mother was my belief in God. God made me accountable for my actions. A priest told me that if I wanted to see my mother again, I needed to live my life as Jesus wanted me to.”

That belief continues to guide her.

“I am a strong believer,” says Miller, who is a mother now. “God works miracles if you believe in him.”

Bren Doyle shares that belief, too, following a difficult move during her young life. A senior at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Bren remembers how hard it was for her initially when she moved to a new home and her new school.

“My best friend used to live down the street from me and now she lives 10 miles away,” says Bren, a member of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Beech Grove. “Also, a shocker, I’m really shy. And I had to meet a whole bunch of new people.”

Now, she knows the changes in her life have brought her closer to God.

“I went from a public school to a Catholic school and the environment was so much more accepting of my faith,” she says. “It seemed that I didn’t have any friends except God at first, but now I would say I have a lot of friends, including God.”

The experiences of Margaret Miller and Bren Doyle make sense to Janet Roth, the coordinator of youth ministry at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute.

“I’ve definitely had some hard times in my life and prayer helps me to get through them,” Roth says. “When I have problems, I have a lot of good Christian friends that I can talk to.”

Even when she struggles with those problems, she knows God is there for her.

“It’s not always easy for me to see God in the moment, but when I look at the situation later, I realize that I could have never worked through it without the love and care of God.”

(Linnea Miller is a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute.)

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