This second night of programming, the high school track focused on how we can go beyond our conditions and not let ourselves be limited by them. The evening focused on a presentation given by John Foppe, President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Archdiocese of St. Louis Council.

John was born without arms and shared with us how he came to discover that he was much more able to do things independently than he was initially able to admit. By way of example, he opened a can of soda, poured it into a cup, and drank from the cup – all with his feet – to loud applause from the room.

More Than Our Conditions

We all have conditions of our life that are a basic part of who we are. Sometimes these conditions get in the way of living our life fully. Some of these conditions are externally obvious such as having no arms or being a minority. Others may be harder for others to realize such as suffering with depression or a spiritual crisis. Our challenge is not to let these conditions in our life limit what we do. God can use our conditions in so many ways. We may never understand why certain conditions or situations are given to us, and, in some ways that question doesn’t matter since we can’t turn back time.

We all have limits of some type. The question is: what do we do with these limits? When we run up against these limitations, many people don’t question them; we just let them define and confine us into a small existence. When we confront these limits, fear kicks in and anger and bitterness can take over. You become stuck hearing the negative voice in your head. We say to ourselves: “I think I can – but I don’t want to.”

Called to Give

It was John Foppe’s experience as a sixteen year old missionary in Haiti that helped him realize that he was too focused on himself. As he was in a Haitian hospital, he was heartbroken and helpless at not being able to pick up a little boy on the floor. Only on his way home did he realize that the little boy wasn’t looking to be picked up; the little boy was trying to give John a hug. In being consumed by his own condition, John missed everything he had to give to the little boy.

So too, we often feel stuck in our experiences: they might make us feel weak, stupid, dirty, or cheap. But everyone has something to give. John didn’t think he had anything to give, but he was wrong. If you have something going on in your life that you don’t like, don’t give up on it; give it over to God. God picks the weakest people to lead. God has chosen you. And he’s calling you to something beyond just your passions; he wants you to continue his mission.

After John’s talk, the teenagers were challenged to identify one way they wanted to commit to proclaiming the Gospel of Life. They wrote these down on a card and gave the card to their chaperone to help hold them accountable.