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 | By Rose Robertson

For Regina, encounter experiences nourish her relationship with Jesus

Enthusiasm oozes from Regina Bonifazi as she explains her growing relationship with Jesus and the Catholic faith feeding her zeal. A senior at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Regina has attended Catholic schools since kindergarten. “I love that I have religious education every day. I honestly don’t know if I’d be the same if I went to public school because there you can’t talk about your faith.  I talk about faith with my friends often; it would be weird not to.”

Regina especially enjoys the encounter opportunities offered at Powers. Activities such as retreats, daily prayer, Mass, adoration and diocesan-sponsored events such as the High School Youth Conference are meant to supply moments for students to personally meet Christ in a significant way. Regina talks about her first encounter experience: “I went to reconciliation during adoration when the priest shared that God wanted him to tell me I was deeply loved and God’s beautiful little girl. I went back out and was praying in adoration when I felt this overwhelming sense of love. It was the most amazing thing I have felt in my entire life and I just wanted more.”

The joy of her encounter propelled Regina into an active embrace of volunteer ecclesial service, which continues to nourish her relationship with Jesus. “Jesus is like a best friend, but so much better. He’s someone you can rely on, who will always be there for you, ready to help you through anything if you just ask.” At Powers, Regina is a sacristan, a lector, an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, an altar server, a Kairos leader and a member of Students for Life. And this isn’t just at school. Many of these roles are duplicated in her home parish of Holy Family, where she also serves on the Youth Group Core Team, as a confirmation sponsor for her sister and in the bell choir.

“I just love doing service work. As I get older, I understand more what the roles stand for. Not only am I serving, but it helps my faith grow and helps me be closer to God. This is why my favorite saint is Francis of Assisi. My religious education has taught me he is a symbol of service to others, and I love that about him.”

Annual mission trips and retreats give her the opportunity to help make Christ real for other teens. “I try to do this through my leadership and just being there for others. I find retreats and mission trips are so influential. When we gather as a whole, not only are we more powerful, but God’s power can be felt. I’ve seen kids go on retreat and come back completely changed from their experience.”

And Regina knows you have to sustain it when you get home. “The most important thing is to keep up with your daily prayer and do those things you were inspired to do while on a retreat or a mission. If you slip up, that’s OK, but get up and try again.”

Regina has some simple advice for teens to help them experience the power of an encounter with Christ: “Don’t be afraid of it. Most teens think they don’t need God because it’s not cool. Be open to an opportunity to encounter Christ coming into your life. Even if it might be a small change for you, it’s pretty big to God.”