Delivered during the Mass for the Reception of the Relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis, April 28, 2022

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I was in Catholic school like you, people would ask me and my friends that question all the time.  

We gave all kinds of answers, depending on our ages and different experiences. We were influenced by our parents, families and friends. We took some ideas from books we read in Catholic school, by things we studied, our favorite subjects, from people on tv and in movies or athletes in sports we watched. We would change our minds many times as we got older. I wonder what you would say if I asked you right now, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Of all the answers friends and I gave, I never remember hearing anyone say, “when I grow up, I want to be a saint!” I wonder why?

In Catholic school, we learned about all the great saints of the Church, people who were really heroes who lived their lives believing in, loving and serving God.  Most of them lived great lives long ago at different times and in faraway places. We see their faces in pictures, windows and statues in churches. We read and hear about them and the amazing things they did. And while we admire and honor them, most of us don’t think about becoming saints one day as a goal!

Today, however, we are here at Mass remembering a young Catholic school boy, not too much older than us, who lived not too long ago, who from his earliest years had only one thing in mind: becoming a saint!  His name was Carlo Acutis.

He was born in England on May 3, 1991, but he lived the next 15 years of his life in Italy. He wasn’t too different from us: although he was an only child, he had lots of friends, played soccer, loved to be outside, had pets he enjoyed, rode his bike, loved playing computer games and making videos.  He was great fun to be with. Despite being a normal kid like anyone of us, there was something very special about young Carlo. He used to say, “to always be close to Jesus: that is my life plan.” And from his earliest days on earth, he lived his life that way. That is the “life plan” of a saint, every saint.

As a young boy, Carlo loved Jesus. He went to Mass, received Holy Communion and prayed the Rosary every day. He spent time just visiting in church and praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Remember, he did these things when he was your age! In addition to his prayers, Carlo Acutis volunteered to help others, especially his classmates who had problems at home or who were bullied by others in school. He loved Jesus and he loved the people he came to know. He was truly awesome. Because of Carlo’s joyful faith and love, his own parents deepened in their faith.

Unfortunately, Carlo Acutis did not live a long life. He died of leukemia at age 15 on October 12, 2006. Before his young death, Carlo’s great love of the Holy Eucharist moved him to develop a website about the Eucharist and the miracles that the Eucharist worked throughout the world. He once wrote in a diary he kept, “the Eucharist is the highway to heaven … the more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus.” Loving Jesus and receiving him in Holy Communion is the most important way to become a saint.

My young sisters and brothers, Blessed Carlo Acutis inspires us to see that holiness is possible for young people, normal kids like you of a similar age, in Catholic schools … for all of us!  While we might not see ourselves as a saint, we can become saints!  Carlo Acutis shows us the way.  “The only thing we have to ask God for,” Carlo wrote, “is the desire to be holy.”

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus says “the one whom God sent, speaks the word of God.” God sent young Carlo Acutis into the world to speak his word and to live a life close to Jesus. Blessed Carlo invites you, my young friends, do the same.