Hello to all of you reading this! My name is Brennan and I am Kerigan’s younger brother. She asked me awhile back to write something for this blog and I told her that I would give it a shot once I find the right words to say and the right topic to talk about. So here it goes and I hope you enjoy.
To give you some background about who I am, I’m currently a freshman at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and am a Theology major with a Business minor. I also play soccer there. To understand a bit about my faith journey, it all started two years ago at a TEC retreat in February of my junior year in high school. TEC stands for Teens Encounter Christ. My weekend of the retreat was held by a guy named Chris Turner. He hosted this weekend for male high school juniors and seniors. There were about 30 candidates including myself and about 30 team members to lead us closer to God and help us along our journey. Long story short, I felt I was given a purpose at this retreat, a sense of belonging and a reason for everything. Nothing spectacular happened to me, rather, with the guidance of the other guys, I was able to understand what God was asking of me. He was asking me to learn his truth, to understand and grow in it, and from there to go out and lead others. From that calling two years ago, I have decided to say yes to him everyday. Some days I’m a little more resilient to this idea but altogether, I want to live my life out according to his will for me.
Going on from that weekend, I have looked for other opportunities to lead or to be led. I was one of the only three upperclassmen in my youth group of 30 kids so that’s where I first felt I needed to be a leader. For the remainder of my junior year and for all of my senior year I did as much as I could for these other students but it was not the simplest thing for me. The main reason for this is that of the 30 students who showed up weekly, 25 of them were freshman girls. This definitely helped me learn to go out of my comfort zone but it was a big test for me. Every week when I would lead a small group, I would be sitting there with six or seven other students and usually all were freshman girls. None of them wanted to open up to me. Eventually through many awkward situations and conversations, I was able to connect with these girls. I became like a big brother to a lot of them and just simply wanted to be there for them to help them along in their faith journey.
With this as my first experience to lead those close to me, I felt like I could lead anyone. I mean if you can get freshman girls to open up to you then there is really nothing stopping you! My following experience to lead was when I got a call from Chris Turner who I had mentioned earlier (he has had a very big impact on my faith journey). Chris called me and asked me to be on the team to help lead the following year’s TEC retreat. Of course I said yes to this. I mean I led freshman girls so leading junior high school guys would be a piece of cake. This was not exactly the case. It was tough only having three days to try to get these guys to open up to me. They wanted to act tough and not let their walls down. It all ended up working out well and these guys had an amazing experience; very similar to my experience the year prior as a candidate. Allowing God to work through me so they could see God in a more intimate way was incredible. I even convinced two of my classmates to come on this retreat and seeing them grow closer to God was remarkable. Once this retreat was over, my senior year was coming to an end. I only had the summer before being sent off to college – something that scared me.
I was very comfortable with what I was doing at this time. I did not want to just drop it all and start on a new journey. Over the course of my summer, I dwelled on these thoughts and they all were answered. I took a trip down to Tiger, Georgia for five days to go to Camp Covecrest with my youth group. This would be my last opportunity as a high schooler to get my spiritual high and continue on with my life. But I truly wanted more than just that. I wanted to get the ability to lead so that’s what I chose to do. Over these five days I was a camper and led by the summer staff missionaries that were there but I was still given chances to lead. I realized how much I was going to miss the kids in my youth group and I wanted to do whatever I could do for them before I left for college.
I had a lot of one on one conversations with many of them throughout the week. Although the one conversation that left me the most impacted was with my youth minister (Jojo) and the next oldest girl and upcoming student leader (Aby). The three of us sat outside on the final night in the beautiful Georgia weather from 11:30 pm until 2:30 am. Aby asked me a lot of questions about leading including how I was able to connect with everyone so well and in what ways could she find success with the program. She was very worried that she could not take on the duty bestowed onto her and this made me realize how much impact I had on these kids. She talked to me like I knew the answers to all of it because to her, I did a good job at leading her and her friends. Then Jojo kept telling me that he was worried about his ministry and if he can continue on. He said that looking how well I turned out, he had hope that he could help these kids grow more. All of this boosted my self-esteem to make me realize I was a good leader for these students. It also humbled me a lot to realize that I am capable of more and must choose to do more.
Now to me, I feel like I am just rambling on, but I say all of this because this is my first post I have written. Kerigan asked me to write about anything and I wanted to talk about my experiences that have brought me to this very moment. In saying that, right now I am looking for more chances to be a leader in my school community and with the different groups I’ve had past experiences with. Most recently, I have applied for a few different groups and have upcoming chances to continue to lead.
Currently I am very involved with the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionaries that we have on campus. I have formed a great relationship with one of them because he had played soccer in college just like myself. He is currently helping me get involved with their different events and programs but mainly teaching me how to disciple. He has introduced me into a discipleship group and that’s something that will really pick up for me this next semester when I’m back on campus. The next big opportunity I have to lead is in February where I have been asked to come back and be on the TEC retreat team. This is already an awesome opportunity but I have also been asked to be one of the small group leaders, which is a big responsibility for me and something I’m very excited about.
There are two additional programs I am awaiting confirmation on. First, I applied for SENT Ministry at school in which I would work with a team of other students and we would plan to organize a retreat for those 7th and 8th graders preparing for Confirmation. Secondly, I applied to be a summer missionary for six weeks at Camp Covecrest which I talked about earlier. This is the opportunity I am hoping for the most. It was an experience that meant a lot to me and I looked up to the summer missionaries with such respect and gratitude. I hope I can be that for teens this summer.
I know God is asking a lot of me and I never want to refuse him anything. I want to be able to get the practice and experiences that are presented to me by constantly say yes to him. For the rest of my life I want to follow this path to lead whoever comes my way. It is my goal to get as many people as I can to heaven and in doing so, I hope to get myself there as well.
Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’- Mark 10:27
Thank you and God Bless, Brennan