I have always identified as a Presbyterian, after being baptized, raised and confirmed in the Presbyterian Church.
I attended Sunday church services, Sunday School and Youth Group. This identity defined my views of the Christian life and shaped the way in which I believe a Christian should live and worship.
The University and its Jesuit ideals were initially very foreign to me. After first visiting The University about two–and–a–half years ago as a senior in high school, I really appreciated all the religious events and activities that the school had to offer. The retreat home at Chapman Lake and the religious presence here on campus are just two of the reasons I chose to come to The University.
I learned very quickly that ways of worship and the practice of religion are much different in the Catholic Church than they are in the Protestant Church.
After attending Catholic Mass, I felt uncomfortable with the different rituals and prayers that I was not used to. And after going on my first retreat, Connections, at Chapman Lake, I felt awkward when everyone around me gestured the sign of the cross- Father, Son, Holy Spirit- after prayer.
These unfamiliar ideas were, at first, hard to grasp. I often felt different, like I was the only Protestant in the room. I did not understand the Catholic traditions and what they meant.
After discovering Praise and Worship, a club here on campus, and listening to other students talk about their Catholic experiences, I began to understand the differences between the faiths and appreciate the ways in which Catholics worship and praise God.
Having these conversations about the differences that exist between denominations allows Christians, both Catholic and Protestant alike, to come to a greater understanding of their own faith while gaining valuable knowledge about the other.
Coming to a Jesuit school, I have also learned about The Society of Jesus and their push for education and academic excellence. While the requirement of theology and philosophy classes may seem like tedious parts of the general education curriculum, they truly are helpful in attaining the well-rounded education that The Society of Jesus pushes toward.
These requirements helped me find a greater understanding of my faith and how to support my faith using ideas in everyday life.
My views of the Catholic Church and the Jesuit traditions have begun to change the more I am exposed to this form of Christianity.
While I still feel most deeply connected with Presbyterianism, I am more open to exploring the Catholic Church and other forms of Christianity, as there is so much to learn from listening to the faith of others.