Many people start their faith journey from the day they are born with parents and/or guardians instilling the values, beliefs, and stories into their daily routines. Some start there’s years or even decades into their life finding a new sense of identity with their faith, just as I had.
Although my parents are very supportive of my decisions regarding my journey with myself and my faith, they did not grow up in the same religion as I have chosen to practice. When I was first introduced to religion in a serious way I didn’t fully understand the teachings. The more I read and the older I got I was able to understand more of what I was being taught and form my own opinions on what I was reading, writing, and praying about.
Most of my peers had already grown up with the teachings of the bible from parents, family, and even priests. So, trying to understand all the teachings by myself was a little unnerving, I spent a lot of time trying to understand the scriptures and what they mean to me. As time went on I spent more time forming opinions and thoughts and with these teachings and understandings, I came to appreciate the Catholic education system.
Many of our religious studies were made up of two parts -reading and discussing. The teacher would quote scripture, prayer, or story maybe not from the bible but still relating to religion then after we would discuss whatever was read to us. I loved the discussion part as I loved hearing my classmate’s views on their faith, and how they interpret what it means to them.
We were able to ask questions about anything and everything and most if not all my teachers were always encouraging us to ask questions and give up thoughts on the topic. So, having support from teachers, family and friends pushed me to continue questioning everything and trying to understand my religion on a deeper level.
So, when in Grade 6 the opportunity came to get all of my sacraments other than marriage, holy orders and anointing of the sick. I jumped at the opportunity but as most things go, I couldn’t just go get my sacraments and call it a day, I had to spend all of my lunches with one of the teachers at St. Paul’s reading and working through a very hefty binder explaining various topics relating to all the sacraments I was about to receive.
In a way, these sacraments helped me get closer to God and I felt more welcomed and more inclined to go to church and fulfill the promises I made. I can still remember the first time I went back to church and finally got to stand up with the others and receive the body of Christ. I can still feel that same joy and sense of accomplishment when I finally got to go up with the big kids and receive the body.
That same year I pushed myself to get more involved in anything that I could. I would voluntarily ask to read in church and try to squeeze my way into any faith-based activities I could. I went through my whole Grade 6 year with the same feeling of dignity that I could finally say that I understand my faith and I am a part of the Catholic community.
I continued to go to church all through the summer and even went to a bible camp for a portion of my vacation spending my day going to a small chapel and hearing the many different stories of my counselor’s faith journeys. It inspired me to be able to start my Grade 7 year off with the Alpha Youth Program. I remember that I was so nervous to share my thoughts with people I didn’t know but with the help of Miss Parniak, Mrs. Palumbo, and the amazing students that put time and effort to be the best leaders I could ask for. I was confidently sharing whenever the discussion portion came up.
This followed into my Grade 8 year although very bittersweet to say I do miss all the times and opportunities I had to indulge in the many faith activities St. Paul’s had to offer. I had done the Alpha youth program for a second time and it was just as fun and exciting as the first time. Since I had done it the year before I jumped straight into it.
As I had already heard these same videos before and shared my opinions. I got to look back on how my ideas have changed with only a year between when I had last thought about these and the difference in my thought process and the final answer was huge. It put into perspective how although I was comfortable in my religion I was still learning and growing in it every day with every mass I continued to dive deeper into what my faith journey meant to me.
With this, I wanted to end with a verse from the bible that I keep very close to my heart which is “no one can stop god’s plan for your life.”
Thank you for listening to my faith journey.
Paisley Johnson, Grade 9 St. Mary’s College