“Be where your feet are,” said Sister Joannie, my high school campus minister, at my high school graduation. At the time, I did not quite understand what she meant by this. It wasn’t until I was suddenly thrown into my new life at Stanford that I soon realized how important these words would be not only to my college experience but also to my relationship with Jesus.
Just a week before I began my future on the farm, I unexpectedly received an email from Kelsey, a current sophomore at Stanford and active member of the Catholic Community. She warmly welcomed me to the Stanford community and invited me to join her for Mass during my first weekend on campus. After that first weekend, however, I quickly became swept up into the whirlwind that is Stanford “Duck Syndrome,” calmly swimming by on the surface with my feet furiously paddling away underneath. I was putting too much on my plate—rowing practice, chemistry tutoring, volunteering, research, student government. I didn’t have time for Mass, for community, for prayer, for Jesus. I was just too busy.
However, my friend Kathleen extended yet another invitation to me my sophomore year—an invitation to join a small group. I was very hesitant to join, but she was persistent while continuing to meet me where I was at. I finally attended my first small group and was immediately welcomed with overwhelming support and a fire for Jesus. This small group was more than a typical Bible study—it was my home away from home. I re-encountered Christ, began my prayer life again, connected with the Spirit through scripture. I noticed how this small group was transforming everything else I was accomplishing at Stanford. Even my friends witnessed the positive changes. I was finally being present— being where my feet were.
During my junior year, I responded to God’s call to lead my own small group, investing in others as others had invested in me. However, the temptation to start paddling furiously under the waterline crept back in as I struggled to get students to attend my small group. I knew God was challenging me to push deeper into my commitment to be a disciple of Christ. That was the moment I started 1:1 discipleship with Julie, a mentor from Evangelical Catholic (EC). Julie’s investment in me allowed me to become grounded, inspired, acquainted with God at a much deeper level. It was through this spiritual direction in the art of discipleship that I was able to rise and become an effective small group leader. By the spring of my junior year, my small group was alive with the joy of the Word.
Finally, as I continued to lead my own small group as well as serve as the coordinator for all small groups my senior year, I realized that I would have never made it to my final year at Stanford or grown into who I am today without my small groups or my 1:1 discipleship. I knew that my ministry was only just beginning. I made the decision to stay as the EC Small Group Coordinator for Undergraduates for one year after graduation while also preparing for medical school.
This is just one story among many more that are currently being written and will continue to be written. None of this would have been possible without our permanent community’s support in making our CC@S vision a reality. So thank you for giving me a fresh start. I hope you join me in continuing to give fresh starts to all current and future Stanford students who are lost and just need one soul to find them, one person to show them how to be where their feet are.