My youth ministers and me

Hey What’s Up Hello: Autobiography

My name is Hannah Elizabeth Sharpe. I don’t remember my baptism since I was only a few months old, but I’m sure it was a lovely experience. Once I grew older, PSR classes became the norm, and I remember sitting in a room each Sunday eating candy, doing activities in religious books, and watching Veggie Tales. I cried at my first confession because I was scared, but I looked and felt like a princess at my first communion. The older I got, the more decisions I began to be able to make about my own faith. Confirmation was all my choice. It was me saying that I choose to believe in the Catholic Faith.

I distinctly remember the first time my faith really clicked for me and I realized why I believe what I believe. I had been selected by my youth ministers to attend a leadership conference hosted by Life Teen, the Catholic youth ministry program. Speakers from all across the US came to share their stories of how faith has shaped their life. The goal of the week was to grow in our faith, so we could bring faith back to our community and serve as a leader within our church. One night, we were in adoration, which is when Catholics pray in front of a consecrated host that we believe is the body of Christ. Music was playing and the priest began to walk around with the tabernacle that held the host. I suddenly find myself bursting into tears and all of my doubts suddenly vanished. It was in that moment that I realized that I chose to be Catholic because it was what I believed. I wasn’t Catholic because my youth ministers or parents told me that I needed to be. I knew that night that it was not always going to be easy for me to realize my faith like I did in that moment, but that I was going to do everything I could to grow in my faith.

My ancestor’s religion was also all about choice. There was no one showing them Veggie Tale movies or requiring them to attend religious classes. Beginning with Thomas Sharpe’s decision to move to American for his faith, choices continue to guide faith for the Sharpe family. It was by choice that my grandfather’s converted from Presbyterian, to Methodist, to Baptist, and it was my dad’s choice to convert to Catholicism. I of course did not know about this journey until, by choice, I chose religion as my topic for this project.

At the time I was trying to decide on a topic, I was given the opportunity to see Pope Francis. The opportunity to see the Pope would play a major impact on my personal faith, and I hoped that learning about my faith in my family would further this growth. The Pope’s homily reminded me again that faith was all about choices. We choose whether or not we will be a unified church. We choose whether we raise our family in the church. We choose whether or not we love others each day. Through this project, I am brought back to the summer night where I burst into tears as I told myself I would do anything to keep my faith. I am reminded that I am part of something bigger than myself. My personal faith not only impacts me, but it impacts my family and the people around me. My ancestors must practiced faith in the way that influenced people around them or faith would not have been so important to my family for so many years. This project is a way for me to honor my family by keeping our history alive, but it also reminds me why I believe what I believe and how I became the person I am today.

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