Our executive speaker in May 2017 was Karly Jurgensen-Daniel, talking about "Music & Miracles: Using Your Gifts to Glorify God". Her presentation took place at St. Leo's in Omaha, Nebraska.
My Peter Moment
A few weeks ago, I was discussing faith with a friend. He asked, “Do you think it is important to question our faith by studying other religions, to know for sure that the Catholic faith is the truth?”
“Well, I think God grants us the grace to question our faith during certain periods of our lives, but we shouldn’t seek out reasons to question or doubt,” I responded.
This conversation brought me back to a time in my life where I was searching for answers.
I’ve always been Catholic. I served as a Catholic missionary for three years. I attend Mass and hold true to the teachings of the Church. Jesus has always been real to me. I never had an intense ‘conversion moment’ where I just knew, without a doubt, that Jesus was who He says He is, where I chose Him over the nagging doubt, until March 30, 2015.
That day, my brother decided to stop treatment for his Stage IV colon cancer. I was on the phone with my best friend expressing my doubts and worries about what was to come. Hospice was coming to admit my brother to their care.
“I don’t know, Kels, I’m so worried my family’s faith isn’t strong enough to go through all of this. I don’t know what is coming or where God is taking us. All I know is that it’s going to be the most difficult thing we’ve been through yet. What if this faith isn’t what it’s really cracked up to be? What if, my siblings, nieces and nephews, my parents- what if they walk away? What if they start believing the lie that God isn’t good because he took Scott?”
“Well, Jenne, what about you? Would you walk away?”
Through my tears, I answered, “Where would I go? I know I am too weak to walk away now. If I did, I would have nothing.”
My answer surprised me and continues to today. 11 days later, our Lord called my brother home at the age of 36. He would be turning 39 on September 17. September is a bittersweet month for my family.
Shortly before Scott passed away, he told me that his cancer was a grace from God. Scott never really practiced his faith until after his diagnosis. He said, “All this time, I thought you were wrong and that I was right. It turns out, you were right. Jesus is real.”
Over the last two years, I have learned it takes courage to live your faith well, especially during times of sadness and grief. In our culture of independence and ‘I’ve got this’ mentalities, it takes courage to learn to lean on God in these moments, to admit to yourself and others that you need help. I am grateful to my friends and community that have been there for my family and me. Thank you.
I tell you this because it is in these moments of doubt and questioning that God desires to enter deeply into our lives. These are the moments that God is closest to us. He wants our whole hearts, minds, and lives. . . not just an hour on Sunday. These moments aren’t comfortable at all, and my pride wants me to avoid them like the plague, but as Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) once stated, “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!”
It is through leaning on Him that He has opened an area of my heart to allow others to lean on me. One of my many roles for my job is to educate parents on how to maintain a central line. A central line is a long term IV catheter that is pretty intimidating for parents to learn to care for. Most kids who get a central line placed have been newly diagnosed with cancer. I know all too well the look of confusion and doubt on their faces when I walk into their hospital room. Some days, I get to share my brother’s story and faith journey through all the uncertainties that cancer brings. The bonds that have been formed with these families have helped heal my heart as well. This is a great opportunity to be able to witness to my faith.
Every day, there is a struggle for our hearts. Jesus desires all of ours. Are we willing to say ‘yes’ to Him? It takes courage to live our faith well, to stand behind a Church that speaks the Truth to a world unwilling to listen. This is nothing new. Many disciples walked away after hearing a difficult teaching in John 6:60-71.
Jesus turned to his Apostles, “Do you also wish to go away?”
Peter responded, “Lord, where would we go? For you have the words of everlasting life!”
As for my family, we miss Scott. We always will. Yet we know now, more than ever, who God is and where Scott is. God is merciful. He gave my brother 18 months to grow in his relationship with Jesus before Scott was given the grace to see Him face to face.
Start today to grow in your relationship with God.
My challenge for you today is to ask Jesus who He really is and who He says you are.
Take five minutes to sit in His presence silently, ask Him to show you who He is throughout your workday. He loves surprising us! He is faithful.
Be courageous, my friends.
Be His Light.
Written by: Jenne Forman, YCP Omaha Director of Evangelization
Our executive speaker in April 2017 was Richard Herink, talking about "Embracing Mentorship". His presentation took place at St. Vincent de Paul in Omaha, Nebraska.
“How Much Do You Trust Me?”
This summer I had the incredible blessing of walking the Camino de Santiago along the Northern Coast of Spain. I traveled with 31 individuals, ages 17-77, from St. Patrick’s in Elkhorn. Our past chaplain of YCP, Fr. John Norman, pitched the idea of the trip last fall. Father had a profound experience on the Camino ten years ago. Over Thanksgiving, I was discerning whether this trip would be feasible. I shared my interest of going on the trip with a life-long friend, Tessa. Much to my surprise, two weeks after sharing my interest in going, Tessa asked when the deposit was due for the pilgrimage. I was overjoyed by her interest in joining the group! We committed to traveling additional weeks beyond the Camino, including a trip to Fatima for the 100th year celebration of Apparitions. I could hardly wait to embark on this adventure!
My most profound “take away” from the Camino was Jesus gently asking me to give over control. There were multiple instances where this message was made clear. A few examples include: my flight being delayed out of Omaha, causing us to arrive in Spain later than the group; the co-ed sleeping arrangements, especially with camping bunks and snoring throughout the night; and eating warm canned tuna and white carbs multiple times a day. I had to learn to be grateful for these moments when God tested my trust in Him! It was through being uncomfortable that I was reminded to give over control and allow the Father to lead me.
During the pilgrimage, I was dating someone and often thought about this man throughout the trip. I grew immensely in my desire for holiness and knowledge of being vulnerable throughout our time of dating. After dating long distance and making a few visits back and forth, it was made evident that our relationship was not supposed to continue. It was painful to close this chapter of my life, but again I heard Christ state, “Trust me, I want to give you what will make you the happiest”. It was my experience on the Camino that allowed my heart to have certainty in Christ’s timing.
Growing in my trust of the Father led me to a deeper docility to the Holy Spirit. This became more evident to me a few weeks ago during the visit of YCP’s founder, Jennifer Baugh, to Omaha. Jenn has become a dear friend of mine over the last few years. I admire her devotion to the mission and trust in times of adversity. Just before her stay, I purchased an icon of Our Lady of Fatima as a gift from our Leadership team. I wasn’t sure what to purchase, so I called upon the Holy Spirit for guidance. Jenn adored the image. The next morning, she spoke about the image with our team at brunch. Jenn stated, “Rachel knows me so well, buying a Fatima image. Cody and I were married on May 13th!” My jaw dropped. I hadn’t made the connection that her wedding day was on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Naturally, Our Lady would be pulling on our hearts to draw closer to her through one another!
Young Catholic Professionals has helped me gain a new confidence in my abilities. After all, it was through Fr. John Norman’s invitation to go on the Camino pilgrimage that I began to develop a deeper trust in the Father, open my heart to the Holy Spirit, allow the Lord to strengthen me, and encounter Our Lady in such a personal way. Through my prayer life, friendships, and occasional discomfort, I can see that allowing Christ to lead my life is far more rewarding. My “yes” to bringing the mission to Omaha has resulted in life-long friendships and hundreds of lives being touched by the work of the Holy Spirit. I encourage each of you to trust that Christ’s plans will ALWAYS turn out better than yours! Trust that He will always have more for you to experience! St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us.
Written by: Rachel Toner, Vice-President of YCP Omaha Outreach
One of Those Doors is You
“God put a million, million doors in the world - For His love to walk through - One of those doors is you”
This is a lyric from a song called, “With Every Act of Love” by Jason Gray, and if you are not familiar with this song you should check it out. Christian music in general, EWTN Catholic Radio, and YCP have been doors into which God has entered my life recently to help me develop as a Catholic.
I highly recommend listening to Christian music, especially K-Love, which is my favorite radio station for music. I never would have guessed this would be the case for me, and here’s why.
It seems like just yesterday I was in high school and a family friend came to talk to our Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) at Sacred Heart Parish in Hebron, NE. The only thing I can remember from the talk was a statement the friend made about Christian music and how it had changed her life. She asked the group, “Have any of you listened to Christian music?”
Nobody’s hand went up and we looked around the room at each other like, what is she talking about? Fortunately, she emphasized giving it a shot and advised that if we did we might be surprised. She said, “You should check it out sometime. It is actually really good music and very calming and relaxing to listen to.” I remember immediately thinking it wasn’t for me, but at the same time I felt fear that I might like it. The fear was that I would be “different” from my friends or “weird” for listening to Christian music which I was not aware was an option in rural Nebraska. This friend provided the door for God to speak to our group, to connect with us and offer some advice on a small change that could make a big difference.
I gave Christian music an honest chance, but it wasn’t until several years later in college. God entered my life through another friend when she admitted that K Love was one of her favorite stations. This was the first time I heard about K Love, but I started listening to the station exclusively. After a few weeks I knew most of the songs and it definitely changed my perspective on what I enjoyed listening to. I no longer fear what others may think of me when they ask what music I like to listen to. I quickly admit Christian music along with a few other genres and it gives me a great feeling to share this info with them because I believe it will help them as well. Listening to Christian music, quietly, in the background when I am working reminds me to offer prays throughout my day. It has helped me realize that God is entering this world everyday through the people I encounter. He is entering the world through me and the more I realized this, the more I knew the impact I could have on others by allowing Him to work through me.
For the past 3 years I have traveled about every other week to various parts of the country for work. About a year and a half ago I heard about YCP. Immediately, I started going to the events and scheduled my work travels around the events as best I could. The members of YCP have greatly increased the number of doors in my life that God enters through. I have gained so much satisfaction from conversing with these new friends, not to mention going to Mass with them and spending time with them outside of YCP events. I advise checking out a YCP event similar to how I advise listening to Christian music and Spirit Catholic Radio: I highly recommend it.
Written by: Destry Kenning, YCP Omaha Technology Team Member
Our executive speaker in March 2017 was Mary Kay Leatherman, talking about "Living the Dream". Her presentation took place at St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha, Nebraska.
Committing to Discipline
Discipline is one of the important parts of living out the Catholic faith that we don’t talk about enough. Most people might realize that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ have the same root, but it’s rare that I hear about discipline from the pulpit. Although nowadays we often use ‘discipline’ to mean something like ‘self-control’, the tie to ‘disciple’ gives us a hint at an older meaning: A commitment to live in obedience to a specific authority. For today’s Christian, both meanings are essential – Jesus taught us how to live, but it’s up to us to apply the self-control to live it out.
I was blessed to be brought up in the faith, but when I was younger, I didn’t have the discipline to even start to live it out. As a teenager, my parents trusted me to go to Mass by myself, and I broke that trust. I convinced them I should be able to go to Church on Sunday evening, because that would be easier than the morning. After they dropped me off, sometimes I did, but other times I wandered around the neighborhood, or went to the park, before showing back up in time to get picked up and go home.
I knew what I was supposed to do, but I didn’t have the self-control, the discipline, to carry it out. When I got to college, I followed the same pattern. Of course, I wasn’t evading Mom and Dad anymore, but I was still finding any excuse not to go to Mass, go to Confession, pray and talk to God – you name it. I had the desire, I wanted to be a better Christian, but I didn’t know what changes I had to make internally to make it happen.
I slowly realized that the key to discipline is to gradually build it up by consistently doing small things. Most of us can’t decide to suddenly flip a switch and be living a faithful Christian life; we have to start deceptively small, like praying every night before bed, or giving up that one hour on a lazy Sunday for Mass (which isn’t a lot, even if it feels like it sometimes). Those seemingly small things lead to big changes in the interior life, in the soul. The more you build a habit, the easier it is to keep doing, and more importantly, the more you miss it when you don’t.
There is one more key I’ve found to discipline – it’s much easier in community. That’s where YCP has been invaluable to me. As I pointed out before, I’m not the greatest at holding myself accountable. It really is a good thing for me to have other people looking out for me or depending on me to help them live out their faith, it means I depend on them too. As a member and volunteer for Young Catholic Professionals, I’ve found so many peers who have the same desire to live the faith, but also have the same struggles in doing that. My challenge to anyone struggling with discipline is to meet one other young Catholic to go to Church with, or carpool to Confession with, or however you are struggling. It will make you a better Christian, and starts great friendships too.
Written by: Patrick Lynch, Previous YCP Omaha Director of Technology, Current YCP Omaha volunteer
Our executive speaker in February 2017 was Steve Wolf, talking about "Seeking Sainthood". His presentation took place at Christ the King in Omaha, Nebraska.
Our executive speaker in December 2016 was Susan Corpuz, talking about the "5 Love Languages". Her presentation took place at St. Leo's in Omaha, Nebraska.
Plans of Grace
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…”
I was once told to write down graces I had received, so during those times when God felt distant I could be reminded of His goodness and abundant gifts in my own life. One of the graces I frequently return to – because I’m a little slow and it can take me a while to internalize things – took place during the YCP retreat in the fall. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, the coffee was good, and the retreat took place in a peaceful house on a lake. We were invited to reflect on ways we had been both close to and far away from God throughout our lives, especially in our professions. My studious self drew a timeline and diligently began listing my sufferings, sins, and wanderings throughout childhood, high school, college, grad school, and professional life. I also listed my joys, achievements, and all the things I had gradually been learning about our loving Father. I would encourage all of you to try this exercise in your own prayer time. I’ll wait just a moment here while you catch up with me…
I won’t bore you or over-divulge about my past, but as I sat reflecting on everything that had shaped my personality and made me who I am, I realized I wouldn’t trade any of it. As I contemplated all the highs and lows on my timeline, it was very clear that God can use all for good. This concept is much more complex when it comes to abuse or the death of a family member, but I was – for the first time – thankful for all, even the sufferings. This reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When I took a figurative step back from my timeline, it all made perfect sense. God let me go through those events so my mind and soul had the appropriate disposition to accomplish the role in His mission that only I can do. Take some time to recognize how your past has formed you and how God might be using this for good…
So, this is where things get interesting, and the biggest grace comes in. Maybe some of you are in the same boat as me, but I seriously have no clue what the next 1, 5, or 50 years on my timeline are going to look like. And on occasion, this freaks me out a little bit. However, just as I took a step back and saw how my timeline was perfectly imperfect thus far, God our Father is taking an even bigger step back - outside of time – and can see my whole life. He sees Brittany, a PA in her late twenties who is loving her friends and family and will frequently forget the only thing she went to the grocery store to get. She wants to love Him and serve Him, and she’s not sure what that will look like. But He’s not worried, because He sees the whole timeline, and how where I am right now fits into the big picture. If I pray and seek Him and act on it, there is really nothing to worry about, because I’ll move along that timeline just as He wills. If I can be so bold as to give you more homework, I would encourage everyone to pray 15 minutes every day so we can know His love and do His will. And for you overachievers, check out the profound “Prayer of Abandonment” by Charles de Foucauld. I hope this all brings you some peace. – Brittany
Written by: Brittany Ford, Parish Ambassador and member of the YCP Omaha team