Friday, November 27, 2020
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Living your Faith in a Challenging World

Neil MacCarthy told three funny, inspiring, stories about living your faith now to the young people overflowing the room at Theology on Tap on May 31 at the Duke of York pub. Each story beautifully illustrated his message. The response from the standing-room-only crowd showed that they got it every time.

When Neil was training for a year with Up with People, Dr. Carolyn Lee oriented the 125 students with a story from her youth about the end of the year. When visiting her cousin, she would often play dress-up. But hearing her mother’s footsteps approaching, and her voice calling, “Carolyn, it’s time to go,” would cause her to beg to stay on, that she just started to play. But her mother replied, “It’s over.” So many people, said Neil, always stay in their comfort zone, realizing too late how much they have missed when approaching ‘footsteps’ announce their time is up. The message: don’t wait: if there is something you are longing to do — do it now!

Note in a Jacket

Neil traveled to Rome in 2001 as part of the delegation that received the World Youth Day Cross to bring it to Canada, the location of the next Day. The expected “little reception” turns out to be 40,000 Italian young people greeting them at St. Peter’s Square. Fr. Tom Rosica then asks Neil in his “not so fresh” outfit to go on stage and hand a jacket to Pope John Paul II. At his friend Nick’s urging, they leave a note in the jacket’s pocket telling the pope they were praying for him, inspired by him and couldn’t wait for World Youth Day 2002 to begin. They sign “the youth of Canada.” In roundabout ways, Neil discovers that the pope had read the note and for that reason loved to wear the jacket. Just remember, said Neil, “… the little things we do for others can have an impact that we could never imagine.”


Bill, a barefoot, wild-haired young man in a torn T-shirt walks up the aisle of a crowded, conservative Catholic church. Finding no seat, he settles down on the carpet near the altar. Tension mounts as a silver-haired usher, leaning on his cane, approaches him. When the elegant older man drops his cane and slowly seats himself next to Bill so he will not be alone, the entire church chokes up. The priest begins his homily with, “What I was about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live your life. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”

All three stories were taken from Neil’s book, Getting it Together: Faith, Hope, and Youth, published by Novalis in 2001.


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