June Update: Discipleship Week & Kurt Giessler Foundation
Kurt Giessler Foundation
Last week I was honored to receive a $2,000 prize for Youth Achievement from the Kurt Giessler Foundation for my renewable energy technology, the Green Highway Project. This was an incredible honor to not only have been recognized, but to be able to be part of Kurt's legacy. Thank you so much to the Kurt Giessler Foundation, and I am incredibly honored and excited to present my technology in September at the annual golf tournament. Also, a huge thank you to Mr. Morehouse from Sacred Heart High School for writing an amazing letter of recommendation for this award.
Discipleship Week | Archdiocese of Boston
I knew immediately that this experience would definitely need to be covered in my blog this week. Chances are if you're reading this, you've had to put up with countless status updates on Facebook and photos on Twitter. :) But in all honestly, this experience is worth so much more than what my photos and video show. After I led an evening prayer and song with hand motions one night, I had one of the adults come up to me and she said "Olivia, I could just see the Holy Spirit radiating from you when you were up there. You are so beautiful and you look so happy." After thanking her I just replied, "I feel so at home here. This is how I want to feel forever."
For the past five days, I have spent my time in the mountains in Warner, New Hampshire at the Northeast Catholic College campus. As part of the honor from Cardinal Seán O'Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston for my Witness to Life video, I was grateful to receive a scholarship to Discipleship Week. I'll be completely honest-- I've been on countless retreats before, but this one was so incredibly special and wonderful, and more inspiring than I ever expected.
Focusing on everything from our identity as sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father to giving our everything to the Lord, we grew as individuals in the faith together. I've made incredible friendships with the 40 other faithful & inspiring teens, and the over 20 adults. I officially have a new favorite saint, St. Maria Goretti, thanks to an amazing homily given by Fr. Eric Cadin, highlighting the inspirational mercy and forgiveness of the youngest saint in the Catholic Church. I highly encourage any Catholic, or anyone, to research her life as it was incredibly inspiring.
There were so many incredible moments that I can guarantee that I will share constantly for years to come in my witness talks and regular conversation as well, but I'd like to share one particular story here as it sums up my experience. Wednesday night, we had Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which for those who are unfamiliar with it, a consecrated host, the Body of Christ, is placed in monstrance and put on the altar for everyone to adore and rest in His Presence. Fr. Matt Williams gave an amazing anecdote before Adoration that I'd like to share.
A few years ago in Poland, a priest was distributing communion when a host was dropped on the ground. The way to properly and reverently dispose of a host is to dissolve it in water, so the priest put it in water and left it in the sacristy to dissolve. When he came back awhile later, the host had transformed rather than dissolved. It appeared to be a piece of fleshy material. The priest contacted the bishop, who contacted the Vatican scientists. Years later, the Vatican scientists have found that the host had really and truly transformed into flesh matter, but specifically heart matter. Even more incredibly, the heart matter was proven by the Vatican scientists to not only be a human heart, but a heart under distress. What does this mean? This means that each and every time we receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, He is giving us His heart. His whole entire heart. He loves us so much that He's giving His everything for us on the cross every. single. time. And what do we give Him in return? How many times do we not give Him our full heart in return?
This story truly touched me, along with countless other moments this week. It's now my goal to not only give my full heart in return to Him, but to spread that "marvelous light" with everyone I encounter around me. The world is ours to change and this complete love is the only way that we are going to be able to do just that.
Here is a vlog of my experience at Discipleship Week 2016:
I would like to thank Mike Drahos & Fr. Matt from the Office of Faith Formation, and the rest of the Archdiocese of Boston team for an unforgettable week. I especially would like to thank Fr. Matt for his part in getting me to Discipleship Week. Thank you so much to you all, and I look forward to next year.
As always, thank you to everyone who continues to support me in all that I do :)