Lisa Kochanowski
Freelance Writer
September 21, 2018 // Diocese

Taking the faith from high school to college

Lisa Kochanowski
Freelance Writer

Andy is 18 and a high school graduate. He spent his entire adolescence in a private Catholic school, including preschool, and is now off to a public college setting. How does he move into adulthood and college life while still living a life of faith?

“The most important thing college students can do is go to Mass,” said Tami Goy, pastoral minister at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend. “Participating in the Mass and receiving Communion is key for all of us to stay connected to God and His grace in our lives.”

At Purdue Fort Wayne, a vibrant Catholic student group called Mastodon Catholic celebrated its first “Mass on the Grass” of the 2018-19 school year on Sept. 14. Groups like Mastodon Catholic and the national network of Newman Centers work to nourish the faith of new and returning college students and help them develop their personal practice of the faith.

College students face challenges to their faith, but also opportunities. As young people leave the nest for the first time, they learn to define their own faith, instead of following the path taken by their family.

“I think one among many challenges is discovering the personal relevancy of their faith — the ‘why’ for their beliefs. During college and young adulthood, faith demands a much deeper personal commitment beyond just a habit carried over from childhood. I think growing into a deep friendship with Jesus and a strong community of faith are the keys to building a foundation where the ‘personal why’ of faith can unfold and take root,” noted TheaMarie Burns, Campus Ministry assistant for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Jason Garrett, campus minister at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, noted that most secular colleges and universities have a Cardinal Newman Center on or close to campus. Newman Centers are generally run through a local parish and connect college students to a church for attending Mass, as well as other possibilities for staying involved with the Church. Joining will provide students with a group of other young Catholics to help support them as they live out their faith in their college years.

“At IUSB, we have been focusing on two areas, outreach on campus and deeper formation for Catholic students who are already committed disciples. For outreach, we have roundtable discussions, social events like game nights, opportunities for service projects, the Awakening Retreat and right now a four-part series on prayer. For our Core Team, we are starting a discipleship group to provide a place to discuss some of the challenges of faith they experience and provide tools for outreach to their peers,” said Burns.

The World Wide Web can also be a helpful guide in one’s spiritual journey.

According to Goy, there are a vast number of websites and apps to help young people. Newmanconnection.com helps students find Newman Centers and local parishes near their university campus. She noted that the mobile apps Laudate and The Better Part are helpful tools as well.

Garrett said he has found the website www.mycatholic.com helpful, along with the apps Catholic Confession, the Lives of the Saints and The Holy Catholic Bible.

“There is also a book I like to give to students who are going off to college. It’s called “God has Great Plans for You,” by Michael Tabors. It has short chapters, with great reflections and action plans to help see God’s plan for their life,” noted Goy.

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