By: Octavio Mendoza

Being a part of the Diocesan Real Presence, Real Future Commission has given me the opportunity to know how much our Bishop, Robert Brennan, cares about the Church and the future of all our youth.  Working with all the members of the Commission, who come from all around the Diocese, gave me the opportunity to do something new that can make various differences in my community.

As a Spanish speaker, I see the struggles that some of the Latino Community goes through.  Many of them are extremely hard workers and have two to three jobs, looking for a better life.  But so much effort can also distract people from the real purpose of their hard work, and they can be in danger of forgetting their families and God.

Forgetting these very important things is the result of prioritizing money, and some people also get involved in addictions such as alcohol and drugs.  I have seen a number of people walk away from the Church because they think they were or actually have been treated the wrong way or have been judged harshly by members of the Church community.  Therefore, they get more involved in what the world has to offer, such as the party culture and so forth.

I’m a father of two girls, 17 and 16 years of age, and the Real Presence, Real Future program has given me hope of a better future for them to grow deeper in their faith and with the Church community.  With a stronger faith, my family and I will remain united and serve in my Church.  My hope for this program that Bishop Brennan is working on with the help of the Real Presence, Real Future commission, is that we will reach more youth and show them God’s love and help make those who are disillusioned and following false ideologies see more clearly how to be closer to God.

I hope for an initiation of programs tailored to the interests and concerns of the youth, using means they are familiar with, such as social media.  Some youth become disillusioned because they don’t know or have not experienced and witnessed what true love is, especially God’s love.  Teenagers are facing temptations and influences from too many bad examples presented to them through social media.  Too often, these things can show them that sexual intimacy is okay at any time with anyone without explaining the consequences of their actions and also that drugs are okay to be used irresponsibly without regard to the possibly detrimental outcomes.

My family and I have been working with the Missionary Servants of the Word Priests (MSP) and Missionary Servants of the Word Sisters (HMSP), learning about God’s love and how to share His love and His words.  This has given us the opportunity to be missionary disciples.  We love to work with the Missionaries Servants of the Word priests and sisters because they have groups for the whole family, such as: Chiquitin Misionero, for kids 7 to 11 years old; Adosepas, for 12 to 17; Jumis for single young adults from ages 18 to 30; and our group CERS, “Comunidad Evangelizadora para la Reconciliación y el Servicio” (Evangelizing Community for Reconciliation and Service).

My wife and I teach Bible studies, and we help the sisters with retreats for married couples, women’s retreats, men’s retreats, and also helping out with any activities that the Church has. Our daughters are part of the leadership youth group at our parish, helping in the bilingual Mass.  One of them is a lector, and the other one helps as an altar server or usher and greeter on Sundays.

In my parish, I have been able to make active efforts to serve others as Christ came to serve.  Being an active member also helps me work out all the struggles that my family and I face.  Together we have been able to overcome dilemmas like family conflicts, work difficulties, and so forth.  We have conversations about problems we see in the world and closer to home in our community and family.

It is with these concerns in mind that I find the Real Presence, Real Future initiative to be such a source of hope and joy.  An effort like this brings so many people of so many different backgrounds together, we are provided hope in the Real Presence of our Lord, and we can work together to build a Real Future that shines brightly for all people.