Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about college. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
It does not feel that long ago when I was a young adult woman beginning a new chapter in life on my college campus. I was eager to exercise my newfound independence by moving away from home and into my home-away-from-home for the next four years. I looked forward to selecting interesting courses and meeting new friends.
The reality is that time is funny, and even though this does not feel that long ago, it was. Because now my own daughter is a senior in high school and preparing to begin this new chapter in her life.
As I reflect upon my own college experience, I write this blog post for you, as your sister in Christ—with a few more years of collected experience and wisdom. Whether you are just beginning your college experience or nearing the end. Whether you are fulfilling a gap year in ministry, service, or the working world. Or whether you have chosen another path, I pray that these words give you confidence and courage to stay strong in your faith no matter where life brings you, during these exciting, unique years of life.
Hindsight is 20-20
I intentionally chose a Catholic college because my Faith was important to me. But I quickly discovered that living out the Catholic Faith was not the priority of every student on campus. Even at a supposedly Catholic university, I still had to actively seek out like-minded people who wanted to attend Mass each Sunday and be involved in other faith-enriching activities.
Despite having a handful of good friends, I still walked some of my faith journey alone during those years. At one point, I sought the spiritual guidance of a religious sister who lived in my college’s convent, when I needed help discerning how to listen to God’s voice in the midst of so much noise.
Overall, I had a pretty good experience staying committed to my Faith during my college years. However, hindsight is always 20-20, isn’t it? And I wish I would have had a more experienced sister in Christ to encourage and challenge me in my faith, during a time when so many other ideologies were vying for my attention.
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How to Cultivate Your Faith in the College Years
So, here are some concrete tips for you. Ones that worked for me, and ones I wish someone would have shared with me. I hope you find them helpful and encouraging, as you navigate these significant, formative years.
Keep Going to Mass
Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. // Matthew 6:33
If you attend a college that offers on-campus Mass, go! If you do not, find the closest (orthodox) parish, and attend Sunday Mass there. The Eucharist is the heart of our Catholic Faith. “It is our duty and salvation,” the primary way we give God our gratitude and praise. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass centers us and keeps our eyes fixed on Christ.
In addition to finding a church where you can attend Mass, find out schedules for Confession and Eucharistic Adoration. Regularly frequent these opportunities for grace.
Commit to Personal Prayer
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. // Matthew 6:6
This season of life is full of change. Your location and surroundings change. Your schedule changes. Your friends and acquaintances change, too. Amidst all of this transition, it is so important to maintain a consistent prayer routine. Make prayer a priority and a habit.
- Figure out where and when you can pray each morning or evening.
- Entrust your whole life to the Lord.
- Talk with Him about the highs and lows of college life.
- Seek His guidance and direction.
- Go to Eucharistic Adoration when you can.
- Read Sacred Scripture.
- Pray the Rosary.
Seek Out Like-Minded Friends
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. // Matthew 18:20
Whether you attend a Catholic or secular university, seek out other Catholic young adults. Most colleges across the United States have some type of Catholic outreach program that offers Bible studies, prayer meetings, and other discipleship opportunities:
Even if your Catholic friendship circle starts small, with one other sister in Christ, she will make all the difference in your life (and vice versa). And eventually, you will encounter more Catholic friends.
For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ. // Colossians 2:5
Living in a digital age, there are a plethora of ways to keep in touch with sisters in Christ across the miles.
- Offer prayer support to friends back home via a group chat.
- Follow uplifting Catholic accounts on social media.
- Join a Blessed is She group to pursue authentic Catholic friendships.
- Listen to Catholic podcasts to receive regular doses of solid Catholic teaching.
Unite Your Loneliness to Christ’s
Realization of our oneness in Christ is the only cure for human loneliness. // Caryll Houselander
I have to be honest with you, dear sister. You may experience periods of loneliness because of your Faith during these college-age years. While others are at parties or giving into a variety of temptations, you may be the only one in the dorm on any given night. You may have to say no to the crowd, in order to say yes to Christ.
When this happens, unite your loneliness with Christ’s loneliness, when the crowd turned against Him. Trust that He, and countless Saints who have gone before us, understand this sacrifice and can help you through it.
Because it is worth every lonely moment to stay true to yourself, to your relationship with the Lord, and to your Catholic values. Your loneliness will be temporary, and you will be so glad you persevered in the end.
Be Confident in Your Faith
Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. // 1 Corinthians 16:13
As you embark (or continue) on your journey, my dear sister in Christ, please be assured of my prayers for you. As I think of my own daughter, as she prepares to graduate and begin a year of ministry, I will think of you, too, in whatever plans God has for you.
This is just one of many stories about college life and discernment. We want to hear YOUR story. Please share in the comments below!
And if you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.