Friend: “Are you Catholic?”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
Friend: “Why is it that Catholics…?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Up until a few months ago, that was my answer for every question related to the Catholic faith. I had said ‘yes’ to my First Communion and ‘yes’ to my Confirmation. But, what was the point? What exactly did it really mean to be Catholic?
These questions did not prompt any significant effort to find the Truth—until college, that is. It started with a desire to belong, to be a part of a community.
That’s when I came upon the first of many invitations to Encountering Christ, which manifested itself as a Small Group. Initially, I was nervous about “fitting in”—an experience quite typical of awkward freshmen like myself. But my worries and insecurities vanished, for it became one of the best decisions I’ve made at Stanford. It became a space where I could ask questions, meet people who were on the same journey, and explore the Word. Most importantly, my Small Group helped me see—and feel— God work around me. I didn’t know it then, but I sensed what I later realized to be the Holy Spirit, moving in my small groups leaders. It reached out to me, fueling a desire to know more, feel more.
So, I sought out a priest and was blessed to have met Fr. Emmanuel, through which I received my second invitation. Fr. Emmanuel approached me one spring day, with his all-too-familiar grin and his iconic skateboard:
Fr. Emmanuel: “Why don’t you come to our leadership meeting tonight?”
Me: “Oh…uhh sure, what’s it about?”
Fr. Emmanuel: “Just come…you’ll see,” he said, still smiling. (I laugh now, because I later found out that the event was, in fact, called “Come and See”.)
There, I witnessed an enlivening congregation of student leaders in the Catholic community and listened to their stories of the trials and triumphs embedded in their experiences of discipleship. Again, I felt the Holy Spirit moving around me. In fact, at Come and See, I came upon my third invitation to Encountering Christ when I met Lourdes, the Campus Minister at Stanford. With her help and guidance, I have been undergoing 1:1 Discipleship, through which I have been exploring my personal connection with Jesus using prayer and reflection and unraveling the answers to my burning questions.
Renewal. Healing. Unity. For me, this was the Dominican Institute for Student Ministers (DISM), a 3-day retreat for Catholic student leaders and campus ministers from western universities. Together we prayed, discussed, sang, and worshipped. I was fully immersed in the Spirit, captivated by the courage and wisdom in the people I met, by the beauty of personal prayer, and by our calling to spread the love we find in Jesus Christ.
I wouldn’t say I found or discovered God. It was—and continues to be—about opening my eyes and recognizing Him in my life, for He has been here all along, working through the aforementioned individuals and leading me to this point in my spiritual life. I’ve said ‘yes’ before, and I will continue to say ‘yes,’ for I have been witness to God’s abundant love. I look forward to this upcoming year and working with Stanford’s Catholic Leadership Team so that others may too encounter and fall in love with Christ.