***This is the essay that I wrote concerning my experience(s) attending the Steubenville East Conference’s in high school. It won me my scholarship for next year! Enjoy!***
I went to the Steubenville East Youth Conference in Kingston, Rhode Island, for the first time in July of 2012 not knowing exactly what to expect. In order to feel His presence I knew that I needed to be willing to trust God, let Him change my life, and be willing to let Him help me become the woman He created me to be, so I did, and it was the best decision of my life. At the conference I realized for the first time that love was a choice. It demands patience, forgiveness, trust, and humility. I realized that Love is a person, someone who died to know me, and someone who still sacrifices all of Himself so that I can live. Steubenville helped me to truly understand and encounter Jesus Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist for the first time through Adoration and the Mass. At the conference, the love I started to have for Jesus in the Eucharist gave me a deeper reverence for it, and I felt called to begin receiving on the tongue.
Because of Steubenville I’ve learned that prayer is the essence of my relationship with Christ. It has brought me so much joy and has inspired me to learn about the Catholic faith, grow in my discipleship, and continue relying on God in all things. It helped me kick off a deeper level of intimacy with Christ as His disciple by bringing love and the joy of Christ into others lives. When I was at LEAD last year I got the humbling opportunity to share my witness talk at the Conference about how I’ve encountered Christ’s love through the sacrament of Reconciliation. In that talk I praised my first Steubenville Conference and invited others to keep their hearts open to trusting God that weekend like I had. Every Steubenville East Youth Conference that I attended displayed Franciscan University in such a positive light, filled with a spirit of fellowship, and I knew that someday I wanted to end up there.
During the conference when they would play the introductory video about Franciscan I felt God saying in my heart, “Apply, Apply, come and see!” However, I never did. During my LEAD week last summer the Franciscan representative talked with us about the school and I started to feel upset with myself because I never accepted that original invitation that I felt God put in my heart all the previous summers to “Come and see.” I’m a Religious Studies major now because I know that I’m called to be God’s servant here on Earth, which is another thing I heard God speak in my heart at last summer’s Steubenville conference when I was praying with one of the teens from my parish. Like Mary, when she said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord” I, like her, strive to be devoted to being God’s servant because I know this is what He calls me to.
After being here at school it wasn’t long until I felt that same tug in my heart that I had experienced when I was being introduced to Franciscan University every year at the conference. I know that I have a mission to bring Christ with me wherever I go, and I’ve been making my discipleship an active one, but now choosing to transfer to Franciscan has brought me so much peace. The conferences have truly changed my whole outlook on my Catholic faith, and I’m so blessed that I was enriched in this ministry throughout my high school years.