Our ultimate goal is heaven. The time we spend on this earth is nothing compared to heaven. You just want to hear him say, ‘Well done.’”
Joseph Bujak may be just entering his junior year of high school, but he is well on his way to being a living example of Christ. His recent experience at Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp (DYLC) strengthened an already solid foundation of faith. He says, “DYLC completely changed the way my life was going. Not from an ‘Am I religious or not?’ standpoint, but ‘How dedicated am I to my faith?’ Before it, I knew there was a God. After DYLC, I know who God is. I felt his presence – that feeling is still powering my life.”
Joseph recently returned from a Habitat for Humanity mission trip with his youth group, which gave him a clear perspective of what it means to be a missionary. He says: “This trip helped me see I can do good in this world as a high-schooler. No one is ever too young to do great work. It was really cool to see people who are older and wiser continuing to do active work for God … Most of the people on the crew were older. There was one woman named Virginia who was always happy and smiling – always enthusiastic. Still doing the good work for God – that was really inspiring.”
As a high school student, it hasn’t been particularly easy for Joseph to discuss his love for Jesus and the Church, but that no longer stops him. “It’s really hard to talk to my friends about God. Not all of them have the same faith I do. Before DYLC, I kept religion at home. I wasn’t devoted to it. Now I like having religious conversations with people who have started to not be as faithful – they find more and more reasons not to believe. It gives me an opportunity to express that you can find a million reasons not to believe – but you only need one reason to believe.”
Joseph was hit with an emotional experience at DYLC that provided another personal reason for him to believe. He recalls, “Every time I had gone to confession before DYLC, I would drive up to church, walk in, go through the sacrament and walk out. At DYLC was the first time I ever really prepared for confession. I sat there for 30 minutes thinking about the sins I had committed and asking God for forgiveness. I started to cry. I’m not sure what made me cry – it might have been someone who looked up at me from across the room with tears of joy in her eyes; I knew it was joy. I don’t know why, but I started to break down. I could feel God’s presence right then. That was the best confession I have ever made.”
One challenge in living as a disciple is staying close to God in daily life – but Joseph has some pointers for that: “Just like with any friendship, you have to have active conversation. You communicate with your friends on a daily basis – you need to do that with God. That is how you get to know him. You have to listen a lot harder. Not in the physical sense, but listen in the everyday things that happen. The little wonders that happen every single day that we don’t see God’s part in. You have to put hard work into hearing what God wants to tell you in your life.
“I have no clue what my reason is in anybody’s life, but I know the Bible tells us to spread God’s love and light all over the world. That is a DYLC quote. We have to be mirrors and reflect his light into the darkest of places all over the world. I need to be that mirror and reflect that light.”
Shine on, Joseph.