"High Tide" by Winslow Homer

The Search for True Friendship

A student who participates in GS in Boston shares her experience.

I believe that, in our lives, there is a need for community, for true friendship. It is vital that we form and maintain relationships that are intentional and whole. This true friendship that I speak of is described by Saint Thomas Aquinas as willing the good of the other. It is a friendship which leads “the other'' both to good and to God. It is a friendship which allows those who partake in it to experience, love, and live more fully. It is this friendship that I have found in GS ('GS' stands for 'Gioventù Studentesca': high school students following the charism of CL).

Every week, I find myself feeling as if I can’t wait for Saturday: to sit around a table with 15 of my friends laughing, singing, and praying together, to wonder how a group of people so varied as ours can be so close, so committed to each other. Looking at this, our Boston GS, and the time we have spent together, I see the difference it has made in my life.

About two years ago, a new priest at my parish invited my sister and I to come to GS. But since we were already part of a good campus ministry program at school, we saw going to GS as more of a favor for Father than something we wanted for ourselves. So we stopped going, and his numbers dwindled again to two. When we came back, it had grown to about eight students. Our interest peaked, we decided to come more often, when we felt like it. After a while of this, something changed. One day, Father asked the group, “how are you remaining with GS? Is it just a thing you go to, or are you committed to it?” It was in this moment that I realized that GS wasn’t just a club, but a lifestyle, one that I wanted to live.

In GS, I found community. And, as Father Giussani has said, “the community is the dimension and condition necessary for the human seed to bear fruit.” I have found this to be true because, since I said ‘yes’ to GS, my life has become all the more meaningful. The seed of faith was there, but this ‘yes’, this community, brought it to bear much fruit. I have become more a part of the Church, more committed to Christ and His body. Yet, I do not just see the change inside of me, but around me. The friendship I was experiencing in GS carried into my other relationships, and I found myself often caught up in meaningful conversations with friends, family, and even strangers. Through the influence and support of my GS community, God is showing me, more clearly, His graces.

Describing GS to someone who asks is not always an easy task. How could my response encompass all that I have to say? I could tell of the beautiful hikes, the theological presentations, or the homeless ministries, but I would be leaving out the unofficial parts: the impromptu movie nights, the jam sessions, or the football games. In fact, one of the aspects I like most about GS is that it is not very regimented. It is sometimes in the simplest or most spontaneous things that we find Christ among us. It is not so much the things that we do in GS, as it is the way in which we do them, that produces an encounter with Christ. It is as He said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”

So, I settle for this: GS Boston is our youth group. It has brought me some of the best memories and the greatest bonds. It is community. It is true friendship. GS is so, so beautiful.

Giana, Boston, MA