Monday, November 4, 2013

Maggie's Story

Catholicism was something that was always forced upon my siblings and I. We often saw it in a negative way and as some sort of punishment. As the youngest of five, I looked up to what my siblings thought and believed, and they did not think too positively of Catholicism. Fortunately, I was introduced to a youth group at a church not too far from me. My two youth ministers (Franciscan graduates) changed my life and my view on religion. They made it fun and cool for me and started to become very involved in my youth group. It no longer felt like a punishment for me to practice my faith or go to church. Today, both of my brothers are professed Atheists and my two sisters are cultural Catholics. Although I still look up to them and respect them, I have very different views than them on religion. Franciscan was not necessarily a school I wanted to go to but it was the only one my parents would put money towards so I convinced myself to go. Since I have been here I have grown so much spiritually and have learned so much about my faith. There are many things about Catholicism that I am not familiar with but I am eager to learn and at Franciscan I have friends that are willing to teach me. I am looking forward to where my faith journey will lead me and I am excited for the relationship with Christ that I know I will form through my years here.

-Maggie C.

Kristen's Story of Faith

I enjoyed going to Church with my family as a child and didn't mind the various faith activities my parents took my siblings and I to. In eighth grade though my older sister started going to the youth mass at our church which was at 4:30 for high school students. I wanted to be with the older kids so I would join her each Sunday. She didn't want to sit with me and wanted to sit with her older friends so I would sit in the back of the church alone. Although it was hurtful at first, it really was a blessing in disguise. Each Sunday I would sit alone and was really able to give my full attention to the priest. I was able to concentrate on what was being said and what Christ was saying to me during the mass. I fell in love with mass and the Eucharist and knew that I wanted this to be part of my life forever. Throughout high school I got involved in anything I could with my youth group and met so many wonderful people. I knew what kind of person I wanted to be and what kind of life I wanted to live. I learned as much as I could about my religion became on fire for my faith. Coming to Franciscan started to become a dream of mine in high school and I worked very hard to be able to go there. Being here is everything I have always wanted, being surrounded by people who believe in the same thing as me and being able to grow deeper in my faith everyday. I fall more in love with Christ and Catholicism everyday, but I know my journey is not done yet!
Kristen D.

Another Faith story!

Since I was born I've been raised Catholic and have gone to church every Sunday with my family. The rules and guidelines of the Church have been drilled and instilled into my head since I was a little kid. I went along with what I was taught and for the most part was very cooperative. When I was eight years old I went to Mexico and received the sacraments of first communion, first reconciliation and confirmation ( a practice I don't think is allowed anymore). I had received all the sacraments but was not necessarily spiritual, by that I mean I never really had a personal relationship with God. During high school I became involved in my youth group and became a peer leader for confirmation students. These things were forced upon me by my mother however. Senior year was when I really started to like and get into my faith on my own. I went on a mission trip to New Mexico and saw my religion in a whole new way. That summer I started attending daily mass on my own and started to work on a relationship with Christ. I've found that I get more out of things like mass when I am alone and not distracted by my family. I was not thrilled about coming to Franciscan but I have grown to love it and I know it's the best place for me to grown in my faith even more!

- Jack S.

The Journey of others...

After thinking about my own faith journey I started to wonder how my friends and family would describe their own faith journey. I emailed a few friends and got some awesome responses and learned things I never knew about them. The first to reply was my brother:

Faith and Catholicism have always played a role in my life. Attending private school I learned all about the faith but it was not until high school that I started to become on fire for my faith. After going on a few youth group retreats I really fell in love with being Catholic and that it was okay to think that it was cool. Even though I love my religion I was not too excited about attending Franciscan and made a deal with my parents I would only stay one year then transfer to Notre Dame. As you know, I stayed all four years and could not imagine my life without Franciscan. It was during my sophomore year at Franciscan that I was diagnosed with bone cancer and had to stay home for a year while I was sick. Although the disease was life threatening and the experience was painful and traumatizing, it was my faith that got me through it. My motto throughout my sickness was Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This was something I truly believed, no matter what happened I knew it was all going to be okay because I had Christ on my side strengthening me to get through the cancer. Not only did I have Christ but I had the love and support from of course my family but, the community of Franciscan University. I don't think I would have found such an amazing community of people to help me get through this time in my life at any other college. After my surgery I lost my leg and was forced to learn how to walk with a prosthetic leg. This meant no more sports, but most importantly: no more rugby. But, it was my rugby team that helped me stay strong and keep the faith, they prayed for me and with me and were there for me every step of the way. Even though I had a strong faith before the cancer, my faith would be nowhere near what it is today without my experience of cancer. God is good and He only gives you challenges He knows you can handle. And I remind myself everyday that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
- Peter Bremberg

My Faith Journey

I was born and raised a "cradle Catholic" and was the youngest of a big, Catholic family. Church every Sunday with my family was mandatory and every Sunday night my family would host other families at our house to pray the rosary. For eleven years I attended a small Catholic school and up through the eighth grade, my faith did not really mean too much to me. It was simply something my family did and something I was forced to practice. Growing up I attended with my family dozens and dozens of different Catholic camps, talks, events, retreats etc. Although I considered my family Catholic i never really looked within and looked at myself as Catholic. Praying on my own was not a thing done often and I seldom actually payed attention during mass.

I started high school however and everything changed. For the first time in my life I attended public school and this was a huge transition for me. Although it was hard at first I ended up loving it. As high school started so did joining my church's youth group. I slowly but surely became more and more involved within the youth group, but this was mostly forced by my mother. My sophomore year I was able to join the youth group "team" and that was when I was able to truly become passionate about my faith. I think it was because I was among kids my own age and not with my family. I started to help plan retreats and started to fall in love with my youth group and my faith. The people on the team became my best friends and we were there to help each other grow in our faiths. Even though I had been in catholic school for eleven years, it was not until I joined my youth group that I really started to learn and understand my faith. Mass, adoration and bible study all of a sudden started to become "cool" for me.

By the end of my junior year I was one of the main leaders on my youth group team and felt that I had become a strong leader among my peers. I was extremely excited for my senior year on the team, finally the oldest members, my friends and I knew this was going to be a great year to lead others to the faith. But, things did not work out as planned and my youth minister surpised us by saying she would be quitting her job to become a teacher. We were all devestated to lose her and even more devestated when our parish showed a lack of motivation to find us a new youth minister. After my youth minister left, the youth group was never the same and after awhile I stepped down from my position as a leader as I refused to participate in a youth group that taught and preached things we as Catholics do not believe in. Instead of a time where teens could come together to learn and share about their faith,  youth group became a place where teens came to watch movies and eat food. This deterioration of our youth group left me with a senior year without any kind faith formation. I started to stray more and more away from the church and at the end of my senior year I was completely faithless. I questioned almost everything about Catholicisim, including the existance of God.

Throughout the summer I dreaded the upcoming school year of attending Franciscan University. Five out of my eight older siblings attended this university and I grew up coming to this school every year to visit. This was not the school I had in mind of attending but I was told it was the only school my parents would pay for so I had no choice. In August I came, still questioning my faith and not entirely sure I still wanted to be Catholic. But, after the first week, I knew this was where I belonged and that this faith was where I belonged. It no longer was my families decision, it was mine, and I chose Catholicism. I can honestly say that my relationship with the Lord is the best it has ever been and I only have this University and my family to thank for that. There are so many oppurtunities here for me to praise and become closer to the Lord. I lived in a predominantly Jewish town and therefore my Church was the only place I had to grow in my faith and after I left my youth group, I had nothing. But, I was wrong, God was with me all along even if I wasnt going to youth group. Retreats, praise and worship or eucharistic adoration are not the only way I can grow in my faith, personal prayer and alone time with God can help my relationship with him as well. And that is where I am right now in my faith journey..I am working on setting aside time to be with God and work on my relationship with him. I have come along way and I have a long way to go but I know that it is a journey worth taking.

Church and New Media Intro

The Church and New Media by Brandon Vogt is a book that discusses the media's role in evangelizing others to the Church. Communication has shifted and millions are using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram etc. This book discusses how the church is adapting to these new forms of communication and how these new outlets can potentially be very beneficial for the Church to preach its message.  Various contributors add to the book with their own experiences with media. Some chapters include: Blogging the Faith, The New Apologetics, Building a digital Movement or Sharing the Sprititual Journey. This last chapter named was a chapter that impacted me the most. Because...really, what is my faith journey?