Since having my initial conversion at the age of 16, until coming to NET at the age of 22, I had struggled with desiring to live an authentically Catholic life, but having a lack of community (and willpower) to really do that. Not growing up in a Catholic family, I had learned most of my morals from friends at school, and so when it came to making the big decisions in life, I usually chose the things that would bring about the most pleasure, and cause minimal pain. Needless to say, this didn’t work out too well for me, and without consciously choosing, I ended up leading a double-life throughout the end of high school and in college.
“I can confidently say that choosing to serve with NET is one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Whilst living this way, it became normal for me to be on retreats one weekend, praising Jesus and genuinely falling more in love with Him, yet the next weekend I would be out partying and doing everything else that so many young adults in high school and college do. After a couple of years, I found myself worn out, experiencing great darkness, and constantly feeling like I was a hypocrite. Through prayer and good spiritual counsel as I was finishing my senior year of college, I came to a decision point in my faith: either I would really follow Christ, or I would walk away from Him.
That was around the same time as when serving with NET was presented to me. My friend encouraged me to just apply and see what happens, so I filled out an application, attended an interview, and by the grace of God was accepted to fly halfway across the world (I’m from England!) to serve with NET Ministries. I experienced so much growth in my first year that I decided to stay for a second year on a retreat team, and now I have been working as a team supervisor for the last year. I can confidently say that choosing to serve with NET is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I came thinking that I would travel around the United States helping young people (which I did – leading over 200 retreats). However, what I didn’t realize is that through serving with NET, the Lord would use this experience to change my heart, and make me a better woman.
“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves,
choosing again what is good, and making a new start.” – Pope Francis
Through developing a consistent prayer life, learning about my identity as a daughter of God, and through the support of a solid community of faith that I found in my teammates and through friends on staff, I have developed a completely new vision of myself. Pope Francis said, “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.” This accurately sums up my time with NET! I am a better woman because I have grown in confidence, vulnerability, integrity, and have a deeper desire to share my faith with others. I truly have been able to choose again what is good, and make a new start in my faith journey.
This Summer, I will be taking on the role of Youth Officer for my home Diocese; the Diocese of Leeds, U.K. My job will involve working with local priests and youth ministers to organize and lead events and retreats for 10-24 year olds in the Diocese. I am so excited for this next adventure and I firmly believe that I would have never been capable of doing this job had I not received the formation that NET provides, and most importantly the daily prayer life that is the foundation of all of NETs’ ministry.
If, like me, you have a desire to go deeper in your faith but aren’t sure how to, I encourage you to consider taking 9 months to serve the Lord with NET Ministries. Not only will you get to meet incredible people, possibly travel the country, and receive formation in the faith, you will be given the opportunity to grow in your relationship with Christ, and through that, you will leave NET a changed person.
Written by Jade Broadley, NET Staff