Getting to Know Catholic Youth
Newly-appointed Pope Francis addressed a crowd of over 3 million people who had come to celebrate World Youth Day in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The theme for the worldwide event — Go and Make Disciples of All Nations — recognized the importance the youth of today have for the future of our Catholic faith. And just who is the typical Catholic teen of today? Well, let’s meet three from our parish, all of whom are juniors at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School — Brian Tavolier, and brothers Jake and Sammy Waller.
As far as teens go, the three friends say they are just regular guys. Sammy plays football, participates in the Chinese Club, is a member of Irish Athletes for Christ, and is an Eagle Scout. His brother, Jake, is involved with the marching, pep, and symphonic bands, participates in various clubs, is a member of the STVM chapter of the National Honor Society, and is active in the school’s social justice club called St. Brigid’s Fire. Brian plays football, is a membe of MuAlpha Theta — a mathematics honor society — as well as the National Honor Society, and is a member of Irish Athletes for Christ. The three young men like to hang out with friends, watch movies and play video games. And yet, they are regular guys who are not only proud of their Catholic faith, but who choose live it in very concrete ways. “I have been a member of St. Vincent de Paul my entire life,” Sammy says. “And my faith is very important to me. I look to God all the time. He helps me overcome obstacles and He helps me in every way.” Of course, faith has to begin somewhere, and all three young men agree that faith was first learned in the home.
In addition to attending Mass as a family and volunteering at the St. Bernard Hot Meal Program, Sammy and Jake note that their parents, Beth and John Waller, taught them the importance of praying before meals and at bedtime. Furthermore, they credit their parents with teaching them important lessons on stewardship, such as responsibility and the importance of hard work. And in the Tavolier household, Brian and his two sisters received many of the same lessons on faith from their parents, Barry and Betsy Tavolier. “My parents have helped me become who I am today by teaching me values that have kept me grounded,” Brian says. “And they are great role models in the way I want to live my life. My faith is extremely important to me, and God has become an important fixture in my life, mainly because of my parents who practice their faith by example and who stress the importance of prayer and attending Mass.” So, Jake, Sammy and Brian say they just are regular guys who embrace their Catholic faith, but it doesn’t stop there. They are also regular guys who are learning to put their faith into action through stewardship.
The words “time,” “talent” and “treasure” are not just for adults. In fact, Catholic teens of today are growing up with the awareness that living the life of a good steward involves much more than attending Mass. “One of my favorite things about St. Vincent de Paul Parish is how many opportunities there are to participate,” Jake says. “Involvement is a good way to give back to the Church, and helping others through volunteering, giving back and being committed is very rewarding. Overall, having faith means helping others and really showing what a Catholic should be.
”All three are very involved with the Youth Group and say that the planned activities — attending a Cavaliers game, doing maintenance on the parish grounds, going to a drive-in movie theater, painting benches — have made them feel closer to their faith and to the parish. Incredibly, all three are also members of the Stewardship Council, and they have a few ideas of their own that they’d like to implement. “I want us to be the first parish to install a Youth Stewardship Committee to help the youth of the parish become more involved in parish life and to make them excited to be part of the Church,” Brian says. “To me, stewardship means being a disciple of Christ by continuing His work and by spreading His Holy Word throughout the world. I try to incorporate time, talent and treasure into my life by simply doing everything I can, when I can, and to the best of my capabilities. And that’s all God asks of us — to do what we can.” Admittedly, being a teen today is not easy — and with school, sports and extra-curricular activities, there is not a lot of free time. But when Pope Francis called the Catholic youth of the world to rise up and be disciples of Christ, he recognized the special energies, opportunities and responsibilities that our youth can offer. In the end, who is the typical Catholic teen of today? They are much like Brian, Sammy, and Jake — teens who believe in God, stand on their faith, and know the importance of putting their faith into action.