November 7, 2014

‘Remember that the opportunities are out there to grow in our faith’

(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

Kara KoepferIt was the most painful time in Kara Koepfer’s young life.

It was also a time when she first realized just how important her faith is.

“When I was 12, my dad passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer,” Kara says. “Though I was still very young, this was a time of great change for me. I’d been raised Catholic and had gone to church my whole life, but when my dad died, my faith began to mean something more to me.

“I saw the love and support from friends and family, and knew that there had to be something bigger at work than I had previously acknowledged. It was then that I truly began to see the face of Christ in others. I found myself surrounded by a love that was unfathomable and impossible to put into words. That was when I knew I wanted to make a conscious decision to begin to love others like I had been loved in my time of greatest need.”

In the five years since she made that decision, Kara has seen her faith continue to grow.

“I’ve fallen in love with service and mission trips, and I really enjoy giving back to others,” says Kara, a student at Bishop Chatard High School and a member of St. Pius X Parish, both in Indianapolis. “Living as God calls me to is something that I have to focus on every day and work at constantly to achieve, but it’s something I feel very strongly about and am motivated to achieve.”

A member of the Archdiocesan Youth Council, Kara views her Catholic faith as “the center of my life.” She also says she needs that core as she faces the fears and uncertainties that confront many teenagers.

“As teenagers, my friends and I often look at the future with uncertainty and even fear because we struggle to balance how we will serve Christ with the expectations of society, our family and our peers. This is something that I struggle with, and often spend much time praying about. It is such a comfort to know that I can turn to Jesus in my times of uncertainty, and know that he is going to stick it out with me and support me.”

Kara believes that connection with Christ is available to all young people once they embrace the different opportunities to make that bond a central part of their lives.

“As teenagers, we have to remember that the opportunities are out there to grow in our faith. Many parishes have youth groups, and many go on mission trips over summer break. There are opportunities every week to share our gifts and talents at Mass and to help lead our fellow parishioners. There are always chances to participate in service at school and around the community.

“I have often found that participating in events like mission trips and youth rallies—like [Indianapolis Catholic Youth Conference]—are exponentially better when friends are present and participating with us. If we recognize that we are called to participate in our lives of faith, we must look for ways to act on it.” †


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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