Life in Technicolor: Julia Bolzon

IMG_3441 (1200x675)I’m 21 and just graduated from McMaster University. I have an awesome degree – a Bachelor of Arts and Science, with a minor in Philosophy – that allows me to pursue whatever path I wish: med school, law school, grad studies, you name it. Instead, I know with certainty that I am called to dedicate one whole year of my life to working full time as a Catholic missionary: helping university students encounter the profound and intimate love of our Creator. I want every person to experience the relationship with Jesus of Nazareth we are created to be in. I know this is what I want and that working within the movement of CCO is how I want to do it.

My own experience in university was one of incredible darkness – in first year I was overwhelmed with worry and anxiety about my life, my future, and my grades, to the point where I was physically sick for months on end.  I was unhappy, fearful, and continuously desolate. Even though I knew and believed in God’s existence, I did not feel as if God was personally within reach, or that He cared about my life.

Amid my constant anxiety, I opened up to a friend from my program who lived as if she KNEW God, personally. Like she would have conversations with Him or something… She spoke about Jesus as if He was a real person in her life, whom she trusted, loved, and delighted in. She had a radiant, warm, confident and contagious personality unlike ANYONE I had ever met before. I recognized that she had something in her faith that I was clearly lacking, and I wanted it.

Through our friendship, over the course of that year I came to a point where I realized what I was lacking: an awareness that God had a personal love for ME in a very real way, and that I could actually have a close relationship with Him. It was at a retreat later that year where I encountered the presence of Jesus during Eucharistic Adoration in a profound way, experiencing a warmth and peace within me unlike anything I’d ever known.

Since that encounter, Jesus radically changed my life. I wanted everyone to know the depths to which we can each truly know and encounter Him! He became my biggest passion. My friend had told me about a Catholic mission project called Impact that changed her life and taught her how to share her faith. I wanted both of those things, and so ended up participating on the Impact mission at the end of my second year. That summer, I was graced to experience such goodness through growing in my relationship with God – I was being exposed to a whole new threshold of happiness that I did not even know was possible. It was like being set on fire with a joy I had never experienced before – like my day to day life went from black & white to technicolour. I wanted the world to experience it with me.

While listening to the speeches at the Staff Discernment Brunch during Rise Up Vancouver (CCO’s National Conference), at the end of 2011 and halfway through my 3rd year of university, I thought to myself,  “This could be it. This makes so much sense.”  Everything I desired for others about Jesus was being tangibly lived out through the charism of CCO.  I kept it in the back of my mind. At the end of my third year, I went on CCO’s mission to Uganda, and for three weeks was being equipped on how to lead an entire campus ministry dedicated to evangelization and building up leaders.

Coming back to McMaster for fourth year, I was so ready to work with my friends and peers to reach more souls for Christ. Everything I had learned about evangelization, sharing my faith, building into others, leading a campus movement, and raising leaders, was from CCO. As fourth year came to a close, even though I was thinking about law school, and grad studies in philosophy and ethics in order to help implement change in society, I knew that ultimately I desired to go to the root of the world’s problems: the absence of God. Being a student leader on campus in various ways for the past 3 years, I knew there was still so much work to be done, and so much more that I could do and give to others, to help more people encounter Jesus and inspire more students to become missionary themselves. I knew that CCO’s expertise in evangelization was what formed my missionary heart, and that I had long thought about giving one year of my life to working with them full-time.

As I discerned this call in prayer, I came across many things that affirmed my decision to dedicate a year to working as a CCO missionary. By the end of May, that call became so loud I couldn’t deny it. I am so thrilled to be dedicating a year of my life to help bring others into an encounter with God and a personal relationship with Jesus.

For those of you thinking about your own next steps, read these words of Pope John Paul II to the youth of the world, that spoke directly to my heart: “Some advice to all in the name of Jesus Christ…I would like to ask each one of you: What will you do with your life? What are your plans? Have you ever thought of committing your existence totally to Christ? Do you think that there can be anything greater than to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus?”

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