May 14, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Enrich your life, listen to what a young person can teach you

Kimberly PohoveyI sat in awe at the words spoken by such young persons. They were all well-written essays, but one stood out to me. It was the essay written by the youngest award recipient: a petite seventh-grade student. Not only were her words inspiring, but the poise with which she delivered her essay was amazing.

As a member of the Serra Club of Indianapolis, I was privileged to attend their annual Vocations Essay Contest awardees’ luncheon a few weeks ago. One student is chosen from each of grades seven through 12. This year’s contest theme focused on St. Joseph, and I was reminded how important it is to listen to our youth.

Many years ago, while I was attending a Christ Renews His Parish retreat, I was similarly inspired by a teenage girl. It was late on Saturday evening, and we were seated around the altar of our church. With dimmed lights, we were in a quiet and prayerful state.

Our leader introduced this young person, who proceeded to give a talk on the meaning of the Eucharist. I sat mesmerized as she eloquently described the meaning of the source and summit of our faith. I was struck that such a young woman carried a maturity beyond her years and spoke from the strength of a faith that I was just beginning to better understand myself—in my late 30s.

I don’t know if it was because she sensed she was not completely getting her point across or whether it was a premeditated part of her talk, but at one point, she hurriedly crossed in front of the altar, stood beneath the massive crucifix, pointed up, and very loudly and intensely proclaimed, “I hope you understand that he did THIS for us.”

I don’t even remember her name, but I’ll never forget that moment. I know God spoke to me through that young woman. I wept and thought I will never fully understand the depth of God’s love for us, but I vowed never to take it for granted.

Another inspiring moment occurred when we lived in Fort Wayne and our closest friends, Donna and Joe, were transferred there as well. Donna was a practicing Lutheran and was visiting different churches to see where her family might best worship.

Our children are the exact same age, so our kids were always together. Whenever their son Conor was at our house on a weekend, we would take him with us to the youth Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church. At some point, Conor let his Mom know that he wanted to go to our church. I’m sure she didn’t pay much attention at first, but he kept bringing it up. She eventually decided it was wise to closely listen to her son and found that he was drawn to the music and energy at the Catholic Mass.

After some contemplation, Donna decided she needed to respond to his desire and attended a few Masses with Conor to find out more. A few became a regular thing until Donna herself felt called to convert.

We often think of the phrase “and the children will lead them” when we think of how Donna and her whole family became part of the Catholic Church. I still tear up when I think of standing behind her, as her sponsor, when she entered the Catholic faith on that long-ago Easter Vigil. Today, she is one of the most devoted Catholics I know.

Just as Jesus himself had a soft spot for children, our lives can be enriched by listening to what our youths can teach us.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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