I am a sophomore pre-nursing student at UAB. Growing up, my faith was tested at a young age when a friend was diagnosed with Leukemia. Later in high school, I had to face the truth that what I thought was love (from a bad relationship) wasn’t good for me and didn’t make me a better person. I wanted something more. As we like to say, I had a “come to Jesus” moment during Adoration, and now I know what humble and authentic love looks like.
I serve as a student missionary through Saint Stephen Catholic Chapel, and l helped to lead the “Awakening” retreat last weekend. One of the most exciting things about an Awakening retreat is that it is led BY students FOR students (under the guidance of priests and mentors)! Needless to say, the two days spent serving these retreaters are extremely important, because we have to lead them closer to Jesus Christ, the only person who will fill each of their voids that the world only temporarily fills.
A few weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Texas and participate in Texas A&M’s 106th Awakening! (We are just on number 3 here in Birmingham!) The Catholic students at this university took my breath away! The faith and compassion each student leader carried on this retreat moved my soul in many ways. About two hundred students lead this retreat three times a year, and over a hundred were on the retreat. I heard many powerful talks by student leaders and even a professor from the university about important elements of the Catholic faith. While at one of the many Masses that weekend, I couldn’t even hear myself sing because all these college students were praising our God with all their might! It was such a beautiful experience, to be able to share this one weekend and the Eucharist with so many people MY AGE.
We want to bring this all to Alabama, and we are well on our way! I cannot wait to see how Christ will continue to work on my campus and in the hearts of all His children in the years to come.
Growing up, I was raised Catholic, but I was not devout. My freshman year of college, I was not involved in my faith at all, and I could tell there was something missing. My sophomore year, I came back to the Church as a way to get away from the overwhelming stress of roommates and school. It was during one of the more difficult times in my life that I really started pursuing my faith at a deeper level.
St. Stephens was my oasis from campus. It has been where I spent hours studying, spending time with friends, and developing a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Through a FOCUS* Bible study, I came to delve deep into God’s words and really opened myself to His influence in my life. Now, I lead a Bible study with five sophomore and junior girls. Looking back on my early undergraduate years, I would have never thought I could develop such a deep and lasting relationship with our Lord. I would never have thought that I would become involved in a church community or actually want to attend Mass. Thankfully I have developed this relationship with Jesus Christ in my early 20s and not later in life.
This past spring, I graduated from UAB with my B.S. in neuroscience with minors in biology and chemistry. I am finishing my master’s of public health in health behavior and have been accepted into medical school. Without the opportunities presented to me through Saint Stephen Chapel, I probably would have left the Church like so many other college students do. Instead, I grew in my faith. While I do not know where I will be next year, I do know that I can always find another parish to call home.
*FOCUS stands for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Saint Stephen Chapel partners with FOCUS national organization to provide four full-time FOCUS missionaries who serve UAB campus.