‘Flame’ Conference

 Fr Christopher Jamison OSB, Director of the National Office for Vocaitions was  one of the speakers at the recent Flame event at Wembley Stadium. NOV had an exhibition stand at the congress and several thousand young people stopped by to talk to the Religious Sisters, Monks and Seminarians working on the stand and to enter the competition. If you didn't get a chance to enter, there is still time to do so as the competition is open until April 16th.

One of the highlights of the congress was the inspiring testimony from the paralympic runner Stef Reid. Her recollection of being in an ambulance after a serious accident that left her disabled was that she had never asked God what his plan for her life was. Helping people ask God what his plan for their lives is, is central to our work at the Vocations Office.

Read Stephanie’s testimony below.

To find out more about Flame visit the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation's website:

http://cymfed.org/congress/flame/2012/ 

 Stephanie’s Testimony

Stefanie Reid, suffered a terrible accident when she was 16.  In her talk at the Flame Youth Conference on Saturday she describes how she has gone on to become a world class runner. 

I am so thankful every day that I get to live out one of my dreams - to be a professional athlete. I have wanted to do this since I was five and competed in my first school sports day. I played everything from basketball, to cross country, to swimming to ballet, and then at 12, I fell in love with rugby. It was my goal to play internationally.  

Things were on track and looking good, and then one day, when I was 16, everything changed forever.  I was at my friend's cottage for the weekend and we decided to go tubing - that's when you attach an inner tube to a speed boat and get pulled over the water at high speeds.  I had fallen off the tube and was waiting in the water, but the driver of our boat didn't see me, and I was accidentally run over.  I got caught in the propellers and had deep lacerations in my lower back and leg. I was scared. I could see it in everyone's face that it was bad. We were hours away from the nearest hospital and there was just too much blood.  I remember lying in the ambulance, just praying. I was terrified to die because I knew in my heart that my life had not been pleasing to God . I didn't really know him,  I had never even asked him what his plan for my life was. My life was all about me. I prayed for a second chance. God answered that prayer. He saved my life and I was incredibly grateful .. until I found out that there was a complication. In order to save my life, the surgeon had to amputate part of my right leg. My thankfulness quickly dissolved. - I was absolutely devastated. I didn't want to live if I couldn't pursue my dream. I didn't want to always look differently from everyone else. 

But I gave God the benefit of the doubt, and through my grief and devastation I trusted him.  But it was confusing. Why would God bless me with passion and ability for sport , only to take it away? How was I still going to be me? Would I still enjoy life? Over the next few months and years, God revealed to me that he put my drive and love for competition in me for a reason. I didn't need to change, I just needed to apply it in a different way. So I put my energy and drive  into my school work and earned a full academic scholarship to university to study biochemistry. I competed on the trivia team, and the chess team  - as you can imagine I was very cool - and I developed a new goal - to be a surgeon. I was happy and I was fulfilled. Then when I was at uni, I happened  to walk by an athletics practice and something inside of me just clicked - I wanted to know how fast I was. I stated off practicing one or two times a week, eventually progressing to full time training six days a week.

Opportunities to compete internationally kept cropping up and finally , I had to make a decision, to pursue athletics professionally, or to go to medical school.  I couldn't believe that God, after all that had happened, would have brought me this far in athletics just to walk away from it, so I decided to take to road less traveled.  12 years ago, lying in my hospital bed, short of one foot, being a professional runner was the last thing I expected of my life. But we serve a mighty God!

I know everyone of you here has dreams and passions. Don't ignore them, They are good, and God created you with them for a reason. The tricky part is finding out what to do with them. There is no formula for it. I can't give you a five step approach. Everyone's journey will be different, and you will have to work it out for yourself in prayer, and with wise council from your peers and elders.  The best piece of advice I can give you is to be open to God's plan. He thinks on a bigger scale than we do, and he can see the whole picture, from beginning to end.

So this summer, I hope you do watch the Paralympics and draw inspiration from it. God is not limited by things like physical disabilities, or social stigmas, or all the other things that we may see as limitations. Or, even better, get involved and experience the Games firsthand with opportunities like the Joshua camp. It is my hope for you, that when you look at your life, what you will see are endless possibilities, and that you will have the courage and determination to pursue them. 

To see a film of Stephanie go to:  http://www.bplondon2012.com/supporting_athletes/supporting_british_athletes/stefanie_reid/?nicam=UKBPOlympics_Athletes_Generic_BP%20Athletes_Named&nisrc=google&nigrp=New_Athletes_Named_Stefanie%20Reid_Exact&nipkw=stephanie%20reid&niadv=Text

 

 

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