Honors students are notorious for working hard and staying involved in extracurricular activities. Despite this, many students find time in their week to focus on their spiritual well-being, which can be an uplifting and refreshing break from the stress of the rest of the week. There are a multitude of possible organizations available for both Catholics and non-Catholics to express their faith. Below are several statements from students who utilize these organizations to strengthen their faith.
The first opportunity is one that Grace White attends and greatly enjoys. This is an organization called Thin Place, which Leader Derek Elkins happily describes. When asked, he stated, “the words that best sum up the spirit of Thin Place, to me, are the words we open with every time. They're quoted on the Thin Place website. We try to make every gathering a place where everyone present can know that they are good and beloved just as they are. And from the security of that frame of heart, we give students a place to look for wisdom together in the sacred stories of their own lives and scripture. If people know that they are good and that they don't have to figure it all out on their own, then we've done quite a lot to help each other live a full life.” The group, which meets every other week, has two types of services. Once a month, they meet for singing, sharing about life, discussing Bible passages, taking communion, and more. The other week in the month involves discussing more general life issues, often prompted by watching a video. These meetings are a welcome break from the rest of the world, and are a great way to form strong and comforting relationships with other members of the group.
Freshman Ann Lozich ('23) explains the next opportunity, a bible study that she attends on Tuesdays form 9-10pm. She describes the meetings and how, “we usually first talk about our week. It’s mostly gratitude for the small things that happen on a daily basis. Gratitude is so important, especially when the weeks are rough. It’s nice to be reminded of what you do have instead of what you don’t, and it makes me feel blessed and lucky to be where I am today. You also stay humble since it makes you realize you have it better off than most people. When you’re grateful everyday, I notice you don’t complain as much. After a minute or so talking about our week, we watch an episode of a video series that we watch throughout the semester. Last semester, the series focused on Mary, her place in the Bible, and why she’s important. This semester, we’re focusing on who or what the Holy Spirit is. After the video, we have discussion questions, reflect on it, and have a closing prayer.” This bible study is a way for people like Ann to become more active in their faith, giving them a chance to practice outside of a normal church setting. It is also different from a “normal” bible study, in that members watch interesting videos that help those involved deepen their faith. This bible study provides another amazing chance for students who want to practice their faith in a different way.
In addition to the two previously listed activities, there are also clubs on campus, like Cru, through which one can practice their faith. Freshman Grace Gerhke ('23) loves going to Cru, and was able to explain what it is. She states that “Cru is an event once a week in the Cassandra Voss Center for about an hour where we sing worship music, socialize with people, and listen to some sort of presenter talk about different Christian topics. For example, on the Wednesday before Valentine's Day we had a member of the club give a presentation on how God shows his love and how we're called to love accordingly. There's also some discussion involved. It's basically youth group for college students. It's not a huge group and everyone is super friendly, so it wasn't intimidating showing up the first time (or any time after that for that matter).” Grace likes the atmosphere of Cru, as she has been able to make a lot of close friendships, and everyone is always excited to see one another. She also appreciates the music and how it reminds her of her youth group from home. Together, these attributes make Cru something to look forward to every week, as the connections made there help Grace practice her faith in a community, which is a powerful thing.
Finally, for those who do not want to leave the dorm in order to have a spiritual aspect in their week, those in Bergstrom can attend ALIVE, which in Bergstrom is headed up by Rae Ballinger and Britney Breckheimer. As Rae explains, “ALIVE is a safe space for students to engage in dialogue and discussion with peers to strengthen community and relationships while discovering individualization and faith. Freshman dorms hold weekly gatherings to foster these areas of development with activities, crafts, games, and discussions.” This program is a great way for students to take a break, reconnect with their spiritual life, and strengthen the bonds they have with others living in the dorm. Thus, it is a wonderful choice for anyone, and it can really help build up a feeling of community in the dorm.
There are countless ways to practice your faith here at SNC, and taking that time to engage in your spiritual life is a great way to take a step back and get perspective before diving back into the grind of college life. It is also a great way to meet and connect with people in a deeper way, a way that makes you want to see them again. So, you might consider taking a step out of your comfort zone and attend one of the meetings for the aforementioned groups, or you can see if there are other groups more suited to your preferences. You never know how much fun it will be until you try, and you may even come out of the organization as a part of a strong community, with ties and support that will never go away.