As young apostles of the Bonita Corpus Christi Catholic Parish, Bonita Vista High School senior Melina Reynoso and junior Madelyn Castillo take on various responsibilities during the week, including leading group discussions in front of approximately 200 teens, sharing personal testimonies, assisting confirmation classes and aiding Catholic church teachers.
“I would say that [the young apostles] are my main focus. My favorite part is getting to work with the them and watching them grow and change,” coordinator of confirmation and youth ministry advisor Peggy Tacchino said.
At CCCP, a young apostle is a leader to those who have yet to finish their confirmation classes to confirm their devotion to the Catholic church. In addition to completing the two year confirmation process and being interviewed to qualify, the most important requirement to meet is a good attitude, according to Tacchino.
“I joined to grow in my faith and to hold myself accountable in prayer and spirituality after I was confirmed,” Castillo said. “One of my major goals was to change the lives of the confirmation students at my parish.”
The young apostles group meets for a Monday fellowship meeting once a month, which is typically an hour and a half and allows teens to have discussions, bible study and share their goals. On Sundays, they help set up, pray before class and after mass they assist teachers.
“Each young apostle is assigned to a small group and within that group, we have an understanding to where if there is something that the kids don’t understand and maybe [my teacher] doesn’t know how to relate to them, then I’m the one that she goes to. So we’re kind of like the bridge between the students and the teacher,” Reynoso said.
Castillo credits the young apostles program with allowing her to accomplish her original goals of religious growth and being able to express such to those around her.
“My prayer life has grown and I have made a group of friends that I talk to everyday that are growing in their faith along with me,” Castillo said. “I’m more proud in my faith and in my relationship with God.”
Aside from expanding her social circle like Castillo, Reynoso also noted a change in her family relationships, including getting the chance to assist her younger sister’s confirmation class and her interaction with her parents.
“It’s about being closer to my parents, because they used to lead groups similar to what I’m doing so just being able to talk to them on that level has been really great too,” Reynoso said.
Both girls were optimistic about their roles in their church and expressed an interest in pursuing similar activities after reaching the age limit of 18 for young apostles.
“I hope that what I learned from young apostles carries on to my life after high school. When I graduate high school and my time in young apostles ends, I hope to join a youth group at the college I attend,” Castillo said.
Despite her observation that backlash sometimes arises from admitting one’s own religious affiliations and views, Reynoso encourages students to joining the young apostles program or any youth ministry group available to them.
“If you’re afraid of outside criticism or anything, just know that your faith is your own and that it’s whatever’s in your heart, so just let outside criticism brush off and don’t really let it affect you,” Reynoso said.
Tacchino believes that the young apostles program is not out of reach for any of the CCCP churchgoers, and strongly encourages teens to join, even if they have some self-doubt.
“There’s a famous cliché but I think it’s true, it’s ‘God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called,’ and so even if they think they can’t do it or they don’t have what it takes, God gives them what they need to be able to serve and to love Him,” Tacchino said.