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Do you Remember?

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Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? I ask myself this question at least once a week.

My oldest is only one year from entering her teens, and already I find myself trying, and often failing, to remember my own experiences at that age—maybe, it’s because I intentionally blocked them out.

Being a teenager is not easy. We go through major biological, physical, mental, and hormonal changes, but it’s also a time when we are forming strong opinions about who we are and who we will be in our adult lives, and we begin taking ownership of our faith and beliefs. All of this usually happens in an environment where other teens are experiencing the same turmoil—a potential recipe for disaster.

And yet, despite our young lives’ chaos, it’s also a time when we discover we have the intellect, creativity and agency to do wonderful things all on our own. Sometimes, those gestures may seem small—reaching out to a peer who is isolated, lonely or depressed. Other times, they take far more energy: starting a program to help those in need, exchanging coveted time with friends and devising how to go to Mass or volunteer. But regardless of the effort required for the good deed, when the gestures are rooted in spiritual goodness and kindness, the good actions are amplified.

As we gathered stories for this month’s issue on teens, I was increasingly inspired by their everyday good work across our archdiocese. From a young woman who shares her gifts and talents as a cantor at Mass and sits on pastoral councils, to high school students creating faith sharing groups that meet before and after school and students partnering with volunteer agencies to improve the lives of others, there is so much goodness happening all around us.

On April 18, 2022, Pope Francis addressed more than 80,000 teens in St. Peter’s Square, saying: “May Our Lady, the mother who was almost your age when she received the angel’s message and became pregnant, may she teach you to say, ‘Here I am,’ and to not be afraid. Take courage and go forth.”

May our teens take this message to heart, and may we, as adults, continue to be inspired by their perseverance, ingenuity and faith.

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