The Bible becomes relevant, and the girls begin to recognize the difference between the loving, affirming voice of their heavenly Father and the voices that tell them they aren’t good enough. The girls in Blaze grow in confidence as they recognize there is nothing they can do to lose God’s love. Even when peers hurt them, they know that God’s approval is what matters most. They encounter an inner strength that changes everything. Teaching these young girls how to use the Bible as a tool for spiritual growth encourages daily prayer and that strengthens the bond with God and family.  It can be implemented in schools during lunchtime, in a small group at home, or one-on-one.More on Blaze...

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WORLD YOUTH DAY EVENTS
Cinta Costera will host the main events during the week of World Youth Day: the Opening Ceremonies, the Papal Welcome Ceremony, and the Stations of the Cross. This tropical, waterfront “coastal beltway” is made up of 64 acres of park land that stretch approximately 3km along the Panama Bay. The site for the World Youth Day Papal Vigil and Closing Mass has not yet been announced.













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PILGRIM & TOURIST SPOTS

Casco Viejo
This historic district and cultural gem of Panama City was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. Casco Viejo was established around 1673 by the Spanish colonialists, the Catholic Church, and other settlers. Historically one of the richest and most densely populated neighborhoods in the Americas, Casco Viejo went on to experience decades of neglect around the 1950s. The streets are filled with buildings that served as homes, cathedrals and churches and government buildings over centuries and many architectural phases. Some of these structures have been painstakingly restored and now house museums, gourmet restaurants, quaint shops, and upscale residences. Other buildings stand in disrepair or complete ruin. The juxtaposition of homes of poor families with expensively remodeled properties offers an excellent peek into the varied history that the district has experienced. (For more on this unique neighborhood, visit CascoViejo.com.)

While in Casco Viejo, make a pilgrimage to the seven historic churches located in that district: La Catedral Metropolitana, La Merced, San Francisco de Asís, San José, San Felipe de Neri, Santo Domingo, and Santa Ana. You can also visit the ruins of the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús (Church of the Society of Jesus / Jesuits). Read more...

Running on Empty

by Kelly Colangelo


We all have those days. You know, the ones when we hit snooze far too many times, when we are frantically trying to find something we misplaced, or showing up to school to find there’s a test we had forgotten about. They are not fun days. On top of all that, we drag due to lack of sleep from the night (or month before) and doing anything more strenuous than watching Netflix seems impossible.













While there is nothing wrong with being driven, there comes a time where Jesus is calling us to rest. And, by rest I don’t necessarily mean take a nap (although there is nothing wrong with that). We can best be fruitful when we are giving from the surplus of our prayers and charity.

Jesus invites all those who are running on empty to Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Read more...

These questions come from LifeTeen, and were included in the blog: "Answers to Every Question You’ve Ever Wanted to Ask a Religious Sister" by Sr. Amy


Question: What advice do you have for young women that think they might be called to religious life? 


Answer: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38. These are Mary’s words. Her response to God’s invitation to be the Mother of Jesus. It’s a beautiful prayer for us today and words we can say to the Lord now. Let it be done to me according to how you desire my life to be, Lord. Let it be done to me according to the plan and story you’ve written for my life, Jesus. Let it be how you would like it to be, God. It’s a prayer of abandonment to the Father’s will and it’s so sweet and precious to Him. Be patient with God’s timing. Be patient with your discernment. Be patient. Don’t be afraid to open your heart to the Lord. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is loving. He is unchanging. He is awesome. He is worth it. Also, you don’t have to figure it out today. Be who you are meant to be now, as a student, daughter, friend. Stay close to Him and talk to Jesus daily. Deepen your friendship with Him. He wants to be with you and loves you as you are now. God will lead you. Trust Him, for He is trustworthy. Take courage, dear heart!


Question: Have you always been attracted to the idea of religious life? Why or why not?


Answer: Sister Act and Sister Act 2 were my first encounters with sisters. So if religious life meant singing “Oh Happy Day” – I was in! But that’s not really it — although on occasion, I will sing “Oh Happy Day” just because I can. And I think Jesus probably laughs with me. As I mentioned before, I was at first very afraid to be a sister. I had a million objections.

Then I met two religious sisters on a retreat who were authentic and joyful! I remember my heart was burning as the sisters shared their stories, as if on the road to Emmaus when the two disciples said, “Were not our hearts burning within us?” (Luke 24:32) I asked God not to let me forget this moment and He hasn’t. When I doubt my calling He brings this memory back and it sets my feet on a firm foundation.

World Youth Day Panama 2019 Official Promo Video

How can I bring Blaze to my middle school or parish? If you are interested in bringing Blaze to your middle school or parish, we encourage you to have a conversation with your principal and/or pastor. We can provide you with some tools to facilitate the conversation. Please click here to request further assistance.

 Dedicated to improving the lives of Black Catholics across the United States 


















Articles, Reviews & Videos for Black Catholic Youth and Teens

Youth and Teen Topics

What is Blaze? Blaze is the Walking with Purpose program developed for middle school age girls. Our mission at Blaze is to speak truth into the hearts of girls who are bombarded by lies about their true worth and beauty. Every week, they are introduced to a lie in our culture, which is then countered with a Biblical truth.

Keeping up With Youth Group Friends Over Summer

by Josh Kay

The Discovering My Purpose Bible Study: This six-session Bible study is designed for middle school girls. This resource opens girls’ eyes to their unique purpose, gifts, and God’s love. It includes the Blaze Middle School Spiritual Gifts Inventory, a fabulous tool to help girls discern where God is calling them to be world-changers.

A little heavenly humor

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My Pro-Life Stance: Then and Now

by Caitlin Sica


Then...
If you had asked me seven years ago if I was pro-life, I would have automatically said, “Personally, yes, but politically, I’m pro-choice.” I took the comfortable position, the position that didn’t impose my beliefs on anyone else. I was able to take this stance because I knew nothing about abortion statistics, and because I had two major misconceptions about what it meant to be pro-life:

Pro-life was a political position, not something required by my faith.
Pro-life meant you only cared for the rights of the unborn.

I grew up in a devout Catholic family that fiercely valued the dignity of all human life, which is why a narrow pro-life stance didn’t appeal to me. Numerous family members were patriots for the most vulnerable — the poor, the uneducated, orphans, the hungry, the sick, the dying, the lonely, the homeless, immigrants and refugees, the abused. Abortion, though, was not something that came up in conversation, other than to reiterate that it was wrong. So inadvertently, it became a “back burner” issue in my mind. Politics, culture, and media perpetuated the belief that to be “pro-life” meant that you only cared about the rights of the unborn, rather than protecting the rights of ALL human life.
Read more...

Does God really want us to be happy?
by Nick Bernard

Does God want me to be happy?

Yes! God created us in and for love, and He desires nothing more than that we might fall in love with Him as deeply as He has fallen in love with us. Our happiness and fulfillment are actually God’s number one priority. However, the happiness God has in mind doesn’t always look like the happiness we plan for ourselves. God’s plans will always be far greater than ours, but it might not seem that way to us in every moment.


How does God want to make me happy?

God wants to make us happy by living in relationship with us. We were made for God, so He is the only thing that can make us whole. Living out a relationship with Him is the only way we can be truly happy. The “happiness” promoted by the world and popular culture would have us think that to be happy means to indulge into every desire we’ve ever had. The mantra of “if it feels good, do it” points us to a false happiness, a happiness in which we eventually find ourselves scrambling to gather more and more things, relationships, popularity, etc., trying to fill the void in our hearts meant to be filled only by God’s love. The problem with the happiness the world promises is that it will always be finite. If we’re simply chasing things and popularity, we will never have enough. But our hearts don’t long for the finite; they long for the Infinite. And only God, who is infinite love and goodness, can fill our hearts as they long to be filled.
Full Story...






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Dating

Introducing Blaze!

In my own life it seems like I am always playing catch up or struggling to plan ahead. Like many of you, I’m a doer. I love crossing items off my list and feeling a sense of accomplishment. It bothers me to sit around when I am an efficient multi-tasker.

How TO Date: Five Perspectives

by Caitlyn Sica



I was so used to my routine of having my friends there for me when “I” needed them that I was overlooking the most important aspect of authentic friendship: willing the good of the other by putting their needs first. Saint John Paul II said it best: “Friendship, as has been said, consists in a full commitment of the will to another person with a view to that person’s good.” Read more...

Healthy Mind

Morality: Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

Today’s dating scene is complex and confusing. More often than not, I stumble upon articles that tell me the “Top 20 Things to Never Do While Dating, or the “10 Types of People to Avoid.” I think articles like these further skew our impression that dating is something to be feared or avoided. What if, instead of focusing on what not to do, we focused on what we should be doing when we date? Read more...

Relationships