I was brought up in St Austin’s parish in Garston, where my faith journey began. I used to be involved in the youth group at St Austin’s, where we would go on retreats to Ampleforth Abbey and have pizza and prayer evenings. The other young people I met during this time continue to be some of my closest friends and, looking back, I realise how these small events had such a big impact on my journey towards Animate and the exploring of my faith.
During my time at St Edward’s College I heard about the Liverpool to Lourdes pilgrimage and decided that once I had finished my GCSEs I would sign up and go. I had no idea how much I was going to love it and it was on this pilgrimage – helping elderly and sick pilgrims get to daily Mass and to the shops and cafes – that my love for serving others originated. Giving up a week of my summer that year to serve others was the best thing I ever did. I continue to travel to Lourdes annually with the Archdiocese and this, in turn, is where I fell in love with Animate! Every year I heard more and more about the work they do and so decided that a year spent working with over 10,000 school pupils could be the best preparation should I pursue a career assisting young people. So here I am!
Liverpool is an amazing city and I am a massive home bird, so I thought moving to sunny St Helens would be difficult but I am loving every minute. I was very nervous initially as it is something completely different for me – standing in front of a group of people and speaking is not something I was previously comfortable with – but life needs healthy challenges in order for us to develop and gain strength within ourselves.
After only six days on the team I was faced with one of my biggest tests: Adoremus. Having heard so much about it, I was anxious about being on stage working with an auditorium full of young people so early on, but it was so much fun. I told myself if I could get through that event, then I would be fine for the rest of the year. Working with youngsters has always been a passion, and inspiring at least one person every day to live a more fruitful life makes the whole job worthwhile.
The past few weeks have been very hectic with settling into community life and learning the ropes, but I have enjoyed working with the many different schools who have been so keen to get to know us and what we do; this makes the rewards so much greater on both sides.
One thing I particularly liked during my first month was visiting the Blessed Sacrament shrine for the first time, being in the Lord’s presence with Adoration and praise music. Seeing the shrine so full yet so peaceful, packed with all walks of life, was truly moving, and made me realise that I have made the right decision in choosing to work at Animate. I look forward to growing in confidence and gaining new experiences with the rest of the team, and I ask you to keep myself and the whole Animate team in your prayers as we work across the Archdiocese this academic year.