As a child growing up I loved God and my faith as a Catholic Christian, but never understood much of it. Being in a predominantly Protestant town, the youth of my church was a very small presence. I grew up loving God, knowing He loved me, but with no real idea of what that meant for my life. When looking back on my faith growing up, however, what sticks out most is my Confirmation. When the bishop anointed my head, I felt such a strong desire, admiration, and an utterly beautiful holy takeover in my heart. It could have only been the fullness of the Holy Spirit descending on me. I knew something big had just happened, that God was in my heart, but I still had no idea just how beautiful of a thing had happened.
This was my first encounter with God, and it’s something I’ve never forgotten. The awe I received from the Holy Spirit eventually went away. A few years passed, and I experienced very little change. Looking back at who I was during this time, I know I was starving for love, truth and acceptance. Though I had this through my wonderful family members and a few friends, I felt a need for more.
It was Protestant friends through whom I realized exactly what I was wanting. As my friends became rooted in Christ’s love, I remember thinking my sophomore year of high school that I didn’t know what it was I saw in them; all I knew was that I wanted it. What I was seeing in them was a relationship with Christ. So I began to seek to know God.
I am so thankful for these friends that showed me what following Jesus looks like, but it was tricky. What I saw through these friends was Christians who loved God more outside of the Catholic Church than I did inside of it. Because of my experience with Confirmation, however, I decided God wanted me to be Catholic. If other people felt God in other churches, then that was fine. They should go there. I had no idea until a little over a year ago that I was completely wrong.
I had a really hard time deciding to come to Baylor, but after a lot of consideration I felt confident that God wanted me here. My freshman year was amazing and I loved every minute of it. I went to Mass on Sundays at St. Peter’s with friends. My new friendships pointed me towards Christ’s love and helped me discover that faith was much more than a feeling. I grew closer to God, but very slowly. I had a hard time with figuring out how to apply Him to my daily life.
Then missionaries from an organization called FOCUS came to Baylor. I became friends with one of them named Kelsie, went to her Bible study, and met with her often to talk about my faith. She not only gave me practical ways to apply my faith to every day life, but also pushed me in doing these things. I learned through her about absolute truth, and how two different churches believing different things cannot both be right. Realizing that the Catholic Church has the fullness of the truth in Jesus was a big realization for me. It was through these difficult but uplifting conversations, going to Bible study, and learning the importance and power of prayer that God showed me the beauty and truth of a relationship with Him through His one true Church.
FOCUS also opened my eyes to the beauty and the power of the Mass. I was shocked when I finally realized that Jesus’ true body and blood is made present to us in the Eucharist and that heaven comes down to us. After learning all these things, I began going to daily Mass, and developed a deep love for my faith as a Catholic.
Daily Mass along with Bible Study, prayer, Kelsie’s loving guidance, and friends I began to make at St. Peter’s, all culminated in the beginning of the transformation of my heart. And then I went on a retreat called Bear Awakening.
Awakening sealed everything that had happened in my faith the past year. It was was the extra push I needed to make God the ultimate center of who I was. I saw the beauty of the community at St. Peter’s, and after Awakening began investing myself in this community more and more.
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Last year was a hard but beautiful one, and I am so thankful for the ways He has grown me. St. Peter’s has been such a blessing; it’s a place that fosters my faith in a truly beautiful way. Everything I’ve learned and am learning about my faith will stay with me for the rest of my life, and thankfulness can’t even begin to express my gratitude for everything I’ve learned through St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center.