Rebecca Hilsdorf gave the youth witness talk at the Hands of Christ recognition ceremony March 10. This vital young woman from St. Pius Tenth in Chili spoke simply and honestly about her faith experiences — about some of the struggles she’s had in finding her way, and about people who had encouraged and supported her.
As a younger girl she said she had little motivation to go to church. The ceremonies did not do much for her and she found little energy in the parish assembly. And, yet, she knew something was simmering inside her, a spiritual thirst for deeper faith and supportive relationships in community.
A turning point in her life came when Rebecca’s youth minister invited her to attend a leadership training program for young people called "Foundations." That insightful, encouraging suggestion eventually put our young friend in the company of peers whose enthusiasm and encouragement fanned into flame the embers of faith that were alive in her heart.
When Rebecca spoke, it was clear to me that the other seniors being recognized paid close attention to her, as did the hundreds of friends and relatives who came to support them. I know that I did, too.
Why the close attention to Rebecca’s words? I cannot be certain, but my intuition tells me that it was because all of us could in one way or another identify with important elements of Rebecca’s story:
1) Who among us has not come to a time in life when we have lost enthusiasm for things we know to be very important? Despite a deep awareness of — even a longing for — something we know to be good for us we lacked the energy or motivation or courage to go after it.
2) And, think about those people who cared enough about us to make a suggestion or offer a word of encouragement or push us just a bit in a way that got us moving in a life-giving direction.
3) The importance in our lives of people who accompany us on the journey, who share our dreams and understand the difficulties we face along the way.
Whether I’ve got all of that right or not, I do thank Rebecca and all of the seniors who shared in the evening for the gift they are to all of us who joined them for the celebration at St. John of Rochester in Fairport. The experience left me with much food for thought and prayer. It also left me looking forward to being with seniors to be recognized and saluted at our three remaining Hands of Christ celebrations. They will be at St. Mary of the Lake, Watkins Glen, on March 13 at 10:30 a.m.; St. Mary, Auburn, on March 20 at 10 a.m.; and at St. John the Evangelist, Greece, on March 23 at 7:30 p.m.
I ask you please to pray for all of these wonderful young people at this exciting and pivotal time in their lives. They have some important decisions to make, and I am sure they would be comforted to know that they’ll do so with the support of your prayers.
One more request: Are there any young people in your lives to whom you might offer a word of encouragement, support or gratitude? If there are, please think about doing so. Many thanks.
Peace to all.