Carrie Ann Ford offered a message of hope Saturday to more than 700 youth during the 60th annual Diocesan Youth Convention.
Ford, the keynote speaker for the weekend gathering in the Adam's Mark Hotel, shared a story about two "amazing" women to show that God is all about second chances.
A Buffalo native and mother of two, Ford is a singer and songwriter, elementary music teacher and children's choir director for her parish in East Aurora. When she was 18, she became a missionary and traveled the United States, Europe and East Africa.
Accompanying herself on guitar and weaving songs into her story, she spoke of this hope while telling her story:
"God is full of hope and love, and God will give you that one more chance," she sang. Ford opened with the story of a 16-year-old girl who fell in love with a 26-year-old man.
"They were madly in love," she said.
However, when the 16-year-old found herself pregnant, this Catholic teen was consumed with worry and fear.
"But because God is mighty, strong and reigns over all, the 16-year-old found strength to give birth to her baby girl and not hide it," Ford said.
The teenage mother had her daughter baptized, and then, in Ford's words, made "a very selfless choice" and gave her up for adoption.
"That takes strength," Ford said.
Ford next talked about a college senior in her 20s who fell in love with a man, became engaged -- the couple "saving themselves" for marriage and their dream of having children.
But things didn't work out quite as planned.
" When the woman found out she could not have children, she was very sad, a little angry and questioned God," Ford said.
A hush fell over her audience as Ford revealed the ending to her story:
The baby daughter given up by the 16-year-old ended up being adopted and raised by this loving, childless couple.
Ford then pointed to the photo of a young blond girl in riding boots, wearing a red and white shirt, and jeans -- projected on a screen, next to the wedding picture of the young couple.
"That's me," Ford said of the young girl.
"God gave each of these people a second chance," she said. "When we think we are out of opportunities, that's when we find God and get those chances," Ford said. "I got to have two fantastic mothers and was raised in sacraments."
The weekend convention concludes today with an appearance by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, bishop of the Buffalo Diocese. The theme of this year's convention is, "Turn the Page Live His Story."