Young Adult Perspectives: Kornelia Fukś, FSSP Thorold
We all lead busy lives, whether we be working adults, busy moms, or, like Kornelia Fukś, a student juggling the duties of parish life, school and work. Ora et labora is the cornerstone not only of the monastic life but also of the lives of people in the world, the wisdom of St. Benedict applicable to both religious communities and our own families. Oftentimes, however, our duties can be overwhelming, we become disheartened or frustrated by all the things we have to do, and prayer takes second place in our lives. How do we keep it all in order? Kornelia, who hails from FSSP Thorold in Ontario, Canada, has some insights for us.
Who are you? Where are you from?
My name is Kornelia Fukś and I’m the oldest of four children. My parents are originally from Poland, but my siblings and I were all born in Canada, and we live in a small town in the Niagara region.
Are you a lifelong Catholic or a convert? Have you always attended the Latin Mass? How long have you been attending St. Aloysius?
I am a lifelong Catholic, but I have not always attended the Latin Mass. My family discovered Queen of Angels Oratory around seven years ago when my dad started learning Latin, and we began attending the Latin Mass regularly shortly after. As more and more people joined the parish, the oratory became too small, and the bishop allowed us to move to a larger church, St. Aloysius.
It must be amazing to be so close to Niagara Falls. St. Aloysius is only a 15 minute drive from the Falls, right?
It definitely is amazing! I’ve been to Niagara Falls many times and the beauty and grandeur impress me every time.
Are you involved in any groups or activities at your parish (altar society, choir, etc)?
A few years ago, I began taking chant classes at St. Aloysius and I now sing in the choir on most Sundays and feast days. In addition to singing the regular parts of the Mass, I sing with the choir during the beautiful ceremonies of Holy Week and sing carols before the Midnight Mass every year.
Where do you go to university?
I go to Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.
What are you studying? What would you like to do when you graduate?
I am studying Applied Linguistics. I just started university this year and I don’t yet have a clear plan of what I would like to do after I graduate, but I would like to have a job involving languages.
Do you work in addition to going to school?
Yes, I work as a music teacher and teach piano and guitar to children both at a studio and at home.
As a Catholic student at a secular university, how do you bring your Faith to those around you? Do you get the chance to evangelize and share your Faith?
Topics related to the Faith come up quite often in conversations with friends, and I’ve been approached by members of various non-Catholic religious groups and clubs who are seeking new members. Most of the time, trying to persuade people that they are mistaken has little or no effect, so instead I try to ask them questions that will hopefully make them reflect on their opinions and see the flaws in their arguments. I am open to talking about and sharing my Faith, so when my friends ask about some of my beliefs, I’m always eager to explain. It’s difficult to tell how much of an effect my words and actions have, but I share my Faith when I can and pray for my classmates and friends.
Do you have any hobbies you like to pursue?
Over the past few years I developed an interest in languages and I spend a lot of my free time improving my language skills. I’m fluent in Polish and Spanish, and I’m currently working on learning Nahuatl, an indigenous language of Mexico, which is a very different but rewarding experience. I also play piano and guitar whenever I get the chance, and I enjoy making my own arrangements of songs.
What are some of the things you like to do with your friends? How important are good friendships for a young Catholic?
It can be difficult to get together during the school year since my friends and I have very different schedules, so most of the time we just meet for lunch and chat or study together, or attend some of the events held on campus. I also really enjoy attending our parish youth group, which is a great opportunity to play games and socialize with other young Catholics. Having good friendships is important because the people we associate with almost always influence us to a greater or lesser extent. Most young people want to belong to a group and have many friendships, and when they find themselves excluded from certain activities or ridiculed because of their beliefs, they are tempted to abandon their Faith. Getting together with other young Catholics is always encouraging, and it allows us to find wholesome and enjoyable ways to spend time.
Being a working student means you have a busy life. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with all the things you have to do, how do you maintain your peace and keep going forward? How do you, as they say, “keep calm and carry on”? What are your strategies?
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I try to step back and remind myself that God has a special plan for me, and everything happens for a reason. God is never far away, always aware of our struggles, and He will give us the strength and graces we need to carry on if only we ask Him. It’s also important to remember that challenges and suffering are not useless, and instead of complaining about how hard life is we can always offer up our hardships to God.
What do you think about the place of prayer in the life of a young person? Sometimes prayer gets sidelined because we struggle to find the time for it. How do we make the time?
Prayer is an essential part of the spiritual life of any Catholic, and it is especially important for young people who face many temptations and challenges every day. Saying “I’ll pray when I have some time today” usually results in prayer being forgotten, and we often try to convince ourselves that there really hadn’t been any good moments for prayer that day. The best way to find time for prayer is to dedicate a specific time during the day to God and make prayer a part of our schedule. This way we won’t plan anything else for that time, and we’ll be unlikely to forget about prayer. Of course, this does not mean that we should forget about God for the whole rest of the day. We can always ask God to give us strength before we begin a new task, or recite a decade of the rosary while waiting at the bus stop. Any time is a good time to speak to God, even if only very briefly, and even the busiest people can find plenty of opportunities to pray and be close to God throughout the entire day.
October 30, 2017