Maggie Craig grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school and got terribly bored with it as a teenager.
“It didn’t seem to relate to me, and I couldn’t understand why it was so important,” said Ms. Craig, who’s now a prominent Catholic speaker and retreat leader.
A powerful experience with the Sacrament of Reconciliation changed her life when she was 15.
“My eyes were opened to the reality of God: He was real, He loved me, and I had to do something about it,” she said.
Ms. Craig will be the featured presenter at a Youth Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church in Laurie on Saturday, July 24.
The shrine is located on the grounds of St. Patrick Church, 176 Marian Drive, off Highway 5 in Laurie.
It is about 20 miles north of Camdenton and 17 miles west of U.S. Business Route 54 at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Ms. Craig is committed to presenting Catholicism to young people in a relatable and approachable way.
Equipped with humorous personal stories and dynamic authenticity, she delights in bringing the message of the joys of the Gospel to parishes, schools, youth groups and college campuses around the country.
“I became a speaker because I fell in love with God and wanted to share that love with other people,” she said.
“I delight in sharing the faith with young people who are also bored with religion, who don’t understand why it’s important or how it relates to them,” she said.
The pilgrimage will include two sessions with Ms. Craig, along with small-group discussions, games and personal reflection.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available.
Lunch will be served.
The pilgrimage will close with Mass at 4:30 p.m.
In both talks, Ms. Craig will highlight the meaning of courage, which is derived from the Latin word for heart.
“Being courageous requires the whole heart, the whole self,” she said, noting that the most frequent command in the Bible is “Do not fear.”
“God is intensely interested in us being brave and turning to Him for courage,” she said.
She echoed Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen’s observation that “there are millions of people who hate what they think the Church is, but there aren’t 100 people who hate what the Church actually is.”
“So many young people have truly no concept of what the Church actually is, and because of that, they reject it,” said Ms. Craig.
She hopes to open the eyes of young people to the reality of the Church, in which they belong.
“The Church is the Body of Christ, and Christ is a God of love and joy and freedom and peace,” she said.
“The closer you get to God and the more you grow in relationship with Him,” she stated, “the more you absorb His qualities and become so much more loving and joyful and free and peaceful. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want those things.”
Ms. Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in catechetics and a master’s degree in theology, both from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
Testimonials from past audience members speak for themselves:
Ms. Craig acknowledged that fear is understandable with so many frightening things going on in the world today.
“But God is with us in our hardship and encourages us to take heart and to be courageous regardless,” she said. “He will give us the grace of courage if we ask.”
She’s “100-percent hopeful” about reversing the trend of young Catholics walking away from the Church.
“The devil wants us to despair, and I’m not giving into that,” she said. “As Christians, we rejoice in the victory Christ has already won.”
She noted that while some young people are turning against religion, “there are also other young people who are diving head-first into religion and embracing their call to be members of the Body of Christ and finding true freedom and peace.”
Wherever sin increases, grace increases all the more.
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is raising up great saints in this generation,” she said. “I know this to be true in my own life, in the lives of so many of my friends, and in the lives of young people I’ve met across the country.”
More information about Ms. Craig can be found on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok under “Maggie Craig Ministries” and at Maggie-craig.com.
Registration for the pilgrimage will be from 8 to 8:45 a.m.