Life Teen’s impact from freshman to senior year continues to grow

Through the grueling high school journey, some students began building a much stronger and solidified relationship with God. From rising freshmen to full-fledged seniors, Life Teen became the source of many student’s conversion into their faith, and each has followed with open eyes and hearts.

“As a senior now, looking back at my freshman self, I can truly say Life Teen played a major role in what my faith turned out to be. I entered the program open minded, but I was lost on the direction I would take and where I would begin. Eventually, throughout each part of my years in high school, I found myself becoming more involved in the events organized for us from mission trips and retreats, to Steubenville conferences and participating in Life Nights,” senior Yassy Mirsajaden said.

Life Teen became established in 1985 at St. Timothy’s Parish in Mesa, Arizona to lead teens closer to Christ. Founder and then-priest Dale Fushek believed that a new approach was needed to evangelize the Catholic youth. The goal stood to deliver the message of Jesus Christ to teenagers in a way they could understand.

As a teen entering the program during freshman year, students encounter familiar difficulties. Walking into a room where nobody knows each other never feels like the most comfortable challenge, and due to the influence of parents, some people have no choice and find themselves reluctant. Though the beginning starts roughly with constant transitions, many seniors can now attest to their growth over the years.

“Through all things, I grew in fellowship with kids my age who desired the same, but being the freshman I was, I would have never looked far to my senior year and believe the great relationship I would eventually create with God. Ultimately, Life Teen has made that possible,” Mirsajaden said.

Their youth ministers and core team often stress the importance of Life Teen being an aid to many teens in their growing faith, encouraging everyone to remember who they are really growing closer to.

“It’s important that I let my teens know they are not revolving their lives around Life Teen, they must revolve it around God, and the program allows them to and gives the extra push towards the newfound relationship. Life Teen is not the cornerstone or the foundation, God is,” youth minister Kristy Parr said.

Each core member offers their own gift and individual asset, but all as a whole exceed their desire to watch each teen grow and act as mentors.

“Each core member has their own distinct personality, but they welcome you with open arms and light hearts. After my first few weeks, they turned into more of my family that I could speak at anytime rather than the core team. That aspect allowed me to open up so much more to my growing relationship with God and the fact they encouraged me till where I am now and onward,” senior Madeline Sheppard said.

While Life Nights do not continue the entire year, during the summer, it makes sure to keep the Holy Spirit constantly burning in the teens with the planning of multiple summer events. The teen program provides opportunities, such as the chance to serve on Mission Trips.

“Clearly I just did not think I fit into the whole Godly scene, but after I attended my first mission trip, doubts of whether I belonged flew out the window. When I returned, it was as if I got a new pair of glasses and I saw everything clear and so much differently than how I formerly saw it. Going to New Orleans to serve taught me that God treats us with so many great gifts and seeing that many lived with very little, but still remained to be grateful for their life and belongings encouraged yet a stronger desire in me to know him and love him just like these people do,” senior Jacob Ragozzine said.

Teens face these life-changing events where they feel called to share or give their testimony to others. By sharing their story, they give their audience a push on where their next step in faith should be taken. Out of a full room of people, if a testimony can touch one person, imagine how many people across the world it could affect.

“Entering the program when I did came with great difficulty of trying to accustom myself to the faith I knew not much about, but when the urge to gain a greater bond with the Almighty Father entered me, it took over. Life Teen has made a great difference and inspired those just like myself. I benefited from such an experience these four years and i used my opportunity to the fullest ability. Now with what time I have left this year, I will continue to live through what I was taught. I accepted him, but for those now entering the program newly, it is up to them to find in themselves the acceptance to him like I did,” senior Maria Mesa said.

Enterprise(1)Nneoma Igwedibie