Catholic Student Center at Texas State University - A Beacon of Hope
As a Catholic parent, it has been very important to me to pass my Catholic beliefs on to my children. Many of our activities revolved around the Catholic Church and it was normal to have discussions at home about various aspects of our faith. When my children were young, I stumbled across an anonymous phrase that left an everlasting impression on me. It states, "The only earthly possession we can take with us to heaven is our children." It made me realize that as parents, our most important job on this earth is to teach our faith to our children so they may follow in our footsteps and live as faithful Catholics.
As my children have grown up and moved into their new college environment, I have realized that my husband and I have provided many opportunities for them to grow in faith. It is up to them now to make decisions about their faith, just as they do about their future careers. I continue to encourage them spiritually and direct them towards Catholic activities, but they make the choices.
I count my blessings that my children attend public universities which have Catholic Student Centers (CSC) on campus. Before we reached the college phase, I was oblivious to the catholic presence on campus. I had no idea what an impact the catholic student center "family" could have on my children. I also count my blessings when they take advantage of the opportunities provided through which they can truly live their faith during the college years. It definitely is a Catholic home away from their real home.
It is no secret that our children will begin to search for new ideas during the college years. It is a time for growth in the secular world as well as the spiritual world if they are open to new possibilities. They all seem to be searching for a new place to belong - a new family that provides the feeling of love and security.
My Son Brandon
My son, Brandon transferred to Texas State University from our local community college. He was struggling to find his place in his new world. We visited the CSC as we toured the campus, but he did not see this as a "cool" place to be spending his free time. He had no previous knowledge of the CSC and no student had ever approached him to let him know what a special place it could be. I was thankful he was attending weekend Mass at the local parish, but he was doing little else to strengthen and live his faith.
After completing an undergraduate degree, Brandon found that he was still searching for a purpose in his life. His goal had been to complete a degree, but he now knew he wanted more for his future. Old friends had moved away and because of job expectations, he had little time for a social life. It became obvious that he was searching for a new family where he would be welcome and could have a sense of belonging.
When Brandon informed me that he attended a Mass for college students at the CSC, I felt hopeful. He had been spending more time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to guide his decisions for the future. We had discussed the importance of following God's plan for your life instead of trying to make the decisions alone. He was led to apply for graduate school in school psychology and then began to attend Mass at the CSC regularly. He was finally watering the seed I had planted when we visited the CSC the first time.
As Brandon began attending Mass regularly at the CSC, it became obvious that he was being fed spiritually. The Holy Spirit had led him here and he was now beginning to feel very welcome in this new family. He was making many new friends who had the same beliefs about faith as he did and he began to be desire to learn more about his faith.
Brandon attended an Awakening retreat which was sponsored by the CSC. He was beginning to feel a sense of pride in his Catholic roots. He was amazed at the amount of fun he could have while spending time on a retreat. He began to take an active part helping with the following retreats and now spends a lot of time at the CSC whether it be for meetings, classes or socializing. I have watched him mature into a faith-filled young adult who knows there is so much more to learn about his Catholic faith. He is discovering the treasure of Catholicism through the opportunities offered at the CSC.
Home Away From Home
Catholic Student Centers are beacons of hope for students on college campuses. They are a home of faith away from our homes of faith, and their presence will feed the souls of the next generation if students will open their hearts and embrace this opportunity. We are called to make sure the students who find themselves on college campuses are aware of this Catholic presence. An active catholic student center can fill the void left in the hearts of so many college students who are searching for this family away from home, as well as providing a place for them to worship. The opportunities to learn more about Catholicism and deepen their spirituality are equally important to the education they are receiving at the college. An enriched spiritual life will provide the tools necessary for these young adults to become active Catholic citizens and parents.