Fear. Today, there is much fear about our country and our world. I was born after 1980, and serve teens in my parish; thus, I’m on the receiving end of much worry. I often hear parishioners and parents ask the million dollar question, “How can we help change the trajectory of future generations?”
Allow me to briefly illustrate my answer. I entered college with a slight case of “stuck-uppishness” not uncommon among youth of any generation. However, that attitude was transformed, as I learned the core value of my Catholic university: servant leadership. “If anyone wishes to be first,” Jesus taught his disciples, “he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:35) Our campus motto was not “fulfill your desires” or “do whatever you want,” but that of the Blessed Mother: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5)
A primary reason for my transformation was the flesh-and-blood Gospel proclaimed by university leaders — lay professors and staff, religious sisters, brothers and priests — who taught this most valuable lesson through the examples of humility and service. They incarnated the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI: “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. […] All Christians are called to this witness, and in this way, they can be real evangelizers.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 21)
The Church is called not to worry, but to fill the world with hope. We are called to live in such a way that our very lives proclaim the meaning of life: “Life is not just a journey; it is a pilgrimage!” The meaning of life is Jesus; he is the way, the truth, and the life. We are called to be Jesus for others.
During my final semester, I was hired by the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Now in my seventh year serving in Catholic evangelization ministry, I am more confident than ever in Paul VI’s wisdom. “Above all, the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness.”
Dear concerned parents, fellow Christians, ministry leaders: The most powerful thing you can do is to become a servant. Deepen your relationship with Jesus so much that you are his living presence. This is how to help future generations. We are transformed by love.
Dear young adults looking forward to college life: Remember, your life is not just “about the journey.” Every journey has a starting and ending point. Your life has a purpose. What virtues do you most admire? Look for a school where you find staff, faculty, students, and alumni who embody those virtues. Choose a community that will truly be an alma mater, a nourishing mother, that helps you answer God’s calling for your life. That is how you will truly change the world.
ANGELA SEALANA is ministry coordinator for the Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate dedicated to helping persons deepen their relationship with Christ. This column was published July 2016.