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Photo: Felix Carroll
When it comes to troubled youth, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, knows of what he speaks.
In a Word: 'Mary'
By Dan Valenti (Apr 12, 2011)
It's never been easy being an adolescent. It's a "between time" in a person's life — not the child they were, not the adult they will be — with many potential pitfalls waiting in ambush: materialism, drinking and drugs, sex, pornography, desensitization to violence, and a popular culture that glorifies money and celebrity.
Today, the challenges of youth are made greater by the pressures put on young people by the faster pace of life and the all-invasive spread of technology. What's the best advice to give? Here's what two Marian priests have to say:
"I speak from experience," says Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, Marian director of vocations and author of the bestselling book, No Turning Back (Marian Press), which tells Fr. Donald's amazing conversion story from runaway youth to Marian priest. "I turned to Our Lady."
Father Donald says that when he learned to "love Mary and trust in her, when I learned to keep in my heart a tender love for the Blessed Mother, I found direction and guidance through the love of her Son.
"A young person can find the false prophets of materialism and the toxic elements of our culture tempting. They need a prayer life. More than anything else, I advise young people to establish a daily relationship with Our Lady. How? Through prayer. Our Lady will do the work of leading them to Jesus and the Father. We fail, but Mary never fails."
Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, who serves at the Marian House of Formation in Steubenville, Ohio, says teenagers hunger for love, whether they realize it or not.
"When a young person gets overwhelmed by the pressures of growing up and doesn't have a solid moral foundation, he or she often feels there is no one to turn to. Many teens are in the process of separating from their parents. That's part of the pain of growing up, so they can feel terribly alone. My advice is to invite teens to ask God for help through Our Blessed Mother. Just have them ask Mary, as a mother, for help."
Father Anthony says many times young people don't know the basics of their Catholic faith. The catechesis that used to be an automatic part of growing up Catholic is often absent in a teenager's life. That's when the adults should intervene.
"At first, it may not be easy [introducing a reluctant young person to God], but don't be afraid," Fr. Anthony says. "Be persistent. God loves those who don't give up. When youth get a taste of the love of God, they begin to realize the loss they were suffering. That's when the heart opens. Mother Mary specializes in that! Start with her."
In short, for that young person you're concerned about who needs to know God, go to Mother Mary. It works.