"For the First Time I'm Sharing My Faith"

by Hailey Cleaves

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” These are some of the last words that Jesus speaks before returning to the Father in the Gospel of Matthew. It is a well-known verse and one that I grew up hearing. I knew these words were an instruction for the apostles, but it was only recently that I began to realize that they were also a command for me.

I was raised in the Catholic Church. I received all the usual sacraments, went to Catholic school, and was involved in my parish. By the time I was in high school I had the reputation as the “Catholic one.” I was content with that label, thinking that I knew what it meant to be a Catholic.

It turns out I had no idea.

This identity I claimed was only surface deep.  I was living my life for me and faith was only a part of who I was. I had no real relationship with Christ, and if I ever tried to, it was only when convenient for me. I had no part in sharing my faith with others.

The first time I decided to truly put Christ at the center of my life, I was in my first year of university. I had spent my time up to this point chasing things and people that left me empty and unfulfilled. I got involved with the Catholic Students’ Association on campus and met some amazing people who helped me learn about my faith. It was here that I learned that the Church is missionary and that we are ALL called to be missionary disciples.

I turned to the Lord and said “I can feel something burning inside of me and I know that it is you. I am giving you my life, Lord. Totally. Take me where you want me to go. I will do whatever you want me to do. Help me to listen. I trust you. I am all yours.” After this surrendering of my life, I could see things changing and it was beautiful.

This summer, 30 student missionaries came to the Victoria diocese with CCO’s IMPACT mission. I was definitely impacted by them. The more I learned about CCO’s mission, the more I learned about Christ’s mission for me.  The missionaries reminded me that God loves me in a personal way and encouraged me to strive for sainthood. CCO is challenging me to be a missionary disciple. For the first time in my life I am sharing my faith with others because I have been given the tools and skills to be able to do so. One does not have to reach a certain level of perfection to be missionary. As Catholics, we are all called to be missionary to the people in our lives, especially those who do not know Christ. Let’s go forth and make disciples of all nations!

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