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A community, a family, a home ‐ that is what the Catholic Community at Stanford is to me. Over the past year, I have had the honor and privilege of being the president of the undergraduate Catholic community. From welcoming freshmen at our annual welcome ice cream social to knitting scarves for the needy in our community to making a warm Lenten meal in solidarity with other Catholic communities around the world, I have seen our Catholic leadership team (CLT) direct fantastic initiatives. Still, what defines this community is not the events we have hosted but, rather, the people that made these events possible.
CLT is a group of individuals who are the student leaders of CC@S; we are a planning committee, a team, but most importantly, friends. These friends daily inspire me with their goodness, their commitment, their passion and smiles.
I have seen so much growth in our community in a single year. In the first week of school, we all sat in a circle on our day retreat, mostly silent ‐ we knew of each other but had not really interacted as a team. That hesitation disappeared after mere weeks as we opened up in small groups, talked with Lourdes, Fr. Xavier, and Fr. Emmanuel, and learned about the various gifts each teammate possessed and had the potential to share.
In one of our all‐team meetings, we brainstormed a list of all possible events we could foresee occurring throughout the rest of the year. Respecting that people express their love for Jesus and his gospel in different ways was the result of this planning session. This exercise was essential to finding the passion that drove each of our student leaders. Some of our team felt called to prayer ‐ planning a Rosary and S’mores; others wanted to share Jesus’ teaching through Church documents; still others expressed their love by bringing us together to share a home‐cooked meal or tasty treat.
Despite taking the lead on a particular project, I saw each CLT member grow deeper in their faith as they supported their fellow teammates’ own passions. Seeing and experiencing the excitement and passion of one person sparked enthusiasm that rippled through the entire team and resulted in all of us returning to our dorms to share the events we were currently planning with our individual friend groups. The byproduct of that ‐ a new face at a weekly fellowship dinner because a CLT member told a friend who told a friend that fellowship dinners are a great way to find community... and get free food (high on the list of Stanford student priorities.)
In all seriousness though, we were challenged. We were challenged to think and “be Catholic” in new ways as we read Laudato Si, discussed the canonization of Father Junipero Serra, and learned about social justice. I am so fortunate to have been challenged to grow deeper in my faith with these amazing friends by my side; I would not trade growing with this new family over the course of the past year for anything.