5 Ways to Keep Your Faith on Campus
You just graduated from high school – Congratulations! Now college is on the horizon, a time full of promise and possibility. You will learn a lot, meet interesting people, choose a career, and possibly even find your future spouse.
You will also make important decisions about your faith. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 2/3 of Catholics who leave the Church do so before age 24. What will you do? It all depends on the plan you make now to nurture your faith during your college years.
Here are 5 ways to keep your faith on campus:
1. Own your faith. Maybe you only went to Mass or Confession because your parents and teachers took you there. Maybe you are only Catholic because that’s what they raised you to be. If so, that’s ok. It’s a start – just try not to make that the end of your story.
Once you are on your own, it won’t be up to your parents or teachers anymore. It can’t be. If you are going to live as a practicing Catholic, it must be because that’s what you want. Otherwise it won’t stick. You have to make it yours.
2. Find your why. One way to make it yours is to put it to the test. Ask the difficult questions: “Who is Jesus?” “What’s so bad about premarital sex, getting drunk, or skipping Mass?” “Should I even be Catholic anymore?” These questions are scary, but God can take it. At any rate, you need answers. Without the “why” behind the “what” you believe and do as a Catholic, your faith will crumble with the first atheist, Protestant, or secular apologist who comes along.
During this time of so much learning, don’t forget faith knowledge. Find a great Catholic podcast and start listening. Ask a Catholic you admire why she’s Catholic. Watch videos. Read articles. Pray! Do what you need to do to find your why.
3. Find others to be Catholic with. Faith is confirmed through learning, but it also needs to be lived with others. A group of good Catholic friends can hold you accountable, look out for you, and show you how to enjoy life and still be true to what you believe.
Look for a Newman Center or a local young adult ministry. Look for someone making the Sign of the Cross before they eat. Look for dirty foreheads on Ash Wednesday. Good Catholics are always around, you just have to find them. They can provide the support you need to live your faith well.
4. Serve others. I know you are probably looking forward to that first Spring Break without any chaperones, but what if you went on a mission trip instead? At first, that may sound like too much work, but I assure you: your faith will come alive when you see how it transforms the lives of others.
Someone is waiting for your spiritual or corporal work of mercy. Someone is waiting for you to share your faith with them. When you do, your smile will make them smile and you will be so glad that you are Catholic.
5. Stay close to the Gift-Giver. While you are doing all these things, keep in mind: your faith does not come from your own striving, it is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). He gave it and He will sustain it. You just have to remain close to Him.
This closeness is achieved primarily through prayer and the sacraments. Pick a time, a place, and a way to pray. That’s the best way to make prayer a habit. Put the local Mass and Confession times in your calendar so you won’t forget those either.
There is abundant grace in cultivating this day-to-day proximity to Jesus. With this grace you can be, not another statistic, but a happy Catholic, full of life and in love with the Lord.
Nicholas Hardesty is the associate director of Adult Evangelization and RCIA for the Center for the New Evangelization. | [email protected]
This article appeared in the May 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.