November 7, 2014

‘Teenagers need to be the salt of the Earth and set the world on fire’

(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

Charlie WesselCharlie Wessel remembers it as one of those confusing times in a high school student’s life when he and his close friends were having “a rough time with one another.”

“I wasn’t paying attention to the people I should, and I was feeling neglected by other people,” recalls Charlie, a senior at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. “I felt alone for a while, and it was just a confusing month for me.”

During that month, Charlie tried to make things better with his friends, but nothing worked, he says, until he turned the situation over to God.

“I eventually just took a step back, stopped worrying, and was just encouraged to let go,” says Wessel, a member of St. Simon the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis.

“God completely took control of that situation for me. After I had felt like my friends were all drifting away from me, suddenly we all started connecting with one another, our friendships started to grow, and we all started to speak to one another again.”

At 17, Charlie believes that kind of situation is common for high school students today.

“Sometimes when a best friend neglects you and doesn’t give you the time of day, it can feel like the end of the world—when it really is not,” he says. “In my experience, letting God take control of the situation—by letting go of your own control and just having faith that God is more powerful than we are—can really make a huge difference. We need to remember to have faith in all of our daily actions, not just in the life-changing moments.”

Charlie considers his faith as the foundation of his life.

“Whether I am creating art, performing, playing sports or speaking with my friends, my faith life always gives me direction. Christ has given me a model to follow so that I can be happy and live a pure and holy life. That is why I have a faith, so that I can be happy, and bring others to that same happiness.”

As he strives to share his faith, he also sees opportunities to help make it a stronger part of young people’s lives.

“Our generation is extremely energetic, educated and full of spirit,” says Charlie, a member of the Archdiocesan Youth Council. “It is amazing to see the talents that are unfolding from teenagers today. However, I think the reason so many people—including myself—are not strengthening their faith is because we remove the youthful spirit when doing service.

“Service has become something that we do to meet our required hours or because we must do it. We need to make an effort to bring the youthful spirit into service.”

He sees that effort as an extension of how young people’s faith lives “need to be personal so that we can learn to use our own talents and gifts to love one another.

“Teenagers need to be the salt of the Earth and set the world on fire.” †


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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