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No Distinction between Life and Faith

Post-Confirmation Teens from Vocis Verbi Parish Youth Group Reflect

Mathew Brigido is a first-year student at Washington University, St. Louis.

Jacobo Mario Esquviel Gonzalez is a junior at Saint Joseph Academy cooperative.

Elizabeth Sophia Ching is a junior at Saint Joseph Academy cooperative.

Emma Herbst is a senior in high school and is educated at home.

Christian Manzanares is a senior at Santa Clara High School.


Voces Verbi is a weekly post-confirmation teen youth group opportunity offered by the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word who conduct Our Lady of Peace parish. Its name means “Voices of the Word,” which their website indicates is attributed to St. Augustine: “Every man who proclaims the Word, is the Voice of the Word.” Their annual culminating activity is a banquet, called a convivium, planned and executed by the teens under the guidance of the pastor and the Sister Servants of the Virgin of Matara.


When did you first learn about the Voces Verbi Youth Group?

Mathew Brigido: I had been in my parish's catechism program as long as I can remember, so after confirmation I was excited to continue my faith formation past what I thought was the "end." I am still involved in my faith in college thanks to the experiences and memories I had in Voces Verbi.

Jacobo Mario Esquviel Gonzalez: I enjoyed the first year (my mom registered me) and was willing to sign up again. I was also curious and wondered what was left to learn after confirmation.

Elizabeth Sophia Ching: What attracted me to Voces Verbi was the fact that I could have a deeper understanding and knowledge of great writings but most importantly to have a deeper knowledge of my Faith.

Emma Herbst: Initially, my mom signed me up, however, I quickly came to enjoy the class and the engaging content. I love the variety of topics we cover, the integration of them into our daily lives, and the open discussions that range from philosophy to painting, centered on faith.

Christian Manzanares: What attracted me to Voces Verbi was having the opportunity to fill my mind with truth and beauty alongside other young people. I have also participated in catechism, summer catechism, and was also an altar server for 5 years. 

How has being a member of the youth group transformed you and anchored you to your Faith?

Mathew: Through Voces I removed that invisible distinction between my life and my faith. It also fostered appreciation for the arts, literature, and virtue. Through in-depth conversations and studying the lives of the saints, I grew to appreciate how intricately intertwined my faith and humanity truly are.

Jacobo: Voces helps me realize we are called to be the voice of God. I hope to be able to help those who struggle the same way I have.

Elizabeth: Voces Verbi has transformed me personally and socially because it allows me to reach out to others, to have holy friendships. We read parts of classics together, like Macbeth, and the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, in the light of our Catholic Faith.

Emma: Spiritually, it opens my eyes to how ordinary experiences and God’s presence are connected. Socially, I am connected with teens in similar situations with similar modern-day struggles who also desire to live their faith.

Is there a particularly memorable moment, event, or service opportunity that you felt impacted you positively?

Mathew: My absolute favorite part of Voces Verbi was the convivium celebrations or banquets. They were celebrations of each other's company and a chance to showcase our talents. I enjoyed creating art and music. I continue to do this in college with my Catholic group here.
Jacobo: The Convivium is my favorite event. I personally love to work with the food team; I either make a dessert or an appetizer for each banquet. Last year I made a sweet roll which took me hours of practice and multiple failures before perfecting the recipe.

Emma: My most memorable outing through Voces was the Legion of Honor trip. It was amazing to be able to see what we talked about during the year, have thorough commentary as we toured, and to be able to share it with equally invested teens.

Christian: The most memorable moment of Voces Verbi is the convivium. These yearly celebrations stay with me because they are fun, and all the young people show perseverance and humility in putting effort into our projects out of love for our group.

If you had to use one word to describe your experience, what would it be and why?

Mathew: I think a fitting word would be vital. I attended Voces Verbi in tandem during high school and even if they never actually intersected with each other, it was a chance to disconnect from the online environment of high school and reevaluate my values.

Elizabeth: One word to describe my experience at Voces Verbi would be elevating. I believe Voces Verbi is elevating because it elevates our minds to greater goods while directing everything we do to The Greatest Good, which is Christ Himself.

Christian: Humbling because I have learned from Father Brian's talks that the world does not revolve around me and my passions, but in desiring the will of God. I have given up the ideal of becoming popular to engage in what is true and beautiful, so that I can learn more and spread the truth of God.

What do you see as a big challenge to youth keeping ties with their faith, and how does a post confirmation group like Vocis help you to overcome those challenges?

Mathew: Something I see repeatedly is the notion that there is a distinction between their religion and their "real life." I think what this class does best is bridge the gap; I can see so many intersections of faith and humanity now that it is impossible to keep them separate, and I love that about my worldview.

Jacobo: This class reminds you to take a moment to realize how serious the faith is and what God has done in your life. I recommend making a firm resolution to repair your relationship with God, and to find ways to strengthen it.

Elizabeth: I think that youth struggle to keep ties with their faith mostly through a lack of understanding. If we truly understood that we are so blessed to have this gift of Faith, and Christ in the Eucharist, everyone would want to “set the world on fire,” as St. Catherine of Siena says.

Christian: A big challenge is that after confirmation, many young people believe they "graduate" from the Church because they see catechism as an extension of  school. Voces Verbi inspires me to overcome these challenges by promoting goodness and truth in real life. I am thankful to Father Brian, Sister Sacre-Coeur, and all the priests and religious for organizing this wonderful group.