Before I came to college, I don’t think I fully believed the words “God has a plan for you.” I had heard it before and probably had said it many times myself, but I am sure now that those were half-spoken or half-believed words. After being at UAB for two years, and specifically being a part of the St. Stephen’s community, I have come to realize that God does have a plan for me, and for you as well.
Coming to college was definitely a transition. I come from a family of seven, so living on my own and going to Mass on my own was completely new territory. I went to St. Stephen’s not knowing anyone, and to be honest, it took a few times to get really comfortable there. It was at St. Stephen’s, and being with the people I have met there, that I have come to recognize that God has a specific purpose and plan for my life and every single person’s life in the world.
Being a part of the community at St. Stephens has opened many doors for me, not only academically and socially, but most importantly, spiritually. It’s through being involved there that I came to be a core-team member for the St. Francis Xavier Middle School Youth Group; I was led to study abroad in Italy; and I applied, and was accepted, to serve as a Totus Tuus missionary last summer. I have switched majors a few times and now know what I want to do with my life (ha-ha, I think). I have met some of the most wonderful and faith-filled humans who have become some of my greatest friends and call me higher as a person, and as a child of God.
Most importantly I have become more involved and more on fire for my Catholic Faith than I have ever been in my life. I began going to Eucharistic Adoration, Confession and daily Mass on a regular basis (after some time and many persistent invitations); I became a sacristan, which has completely transformed the way I view and participate in Mass; I not only joined a bible study, but also led a bible study (shout out to Mabry and Ana!), and just showed up at events going on at St. Stephen’s. It is through some incredible FOCUS missionaries, priests, bible study leaders, friends that turned into roommates, and many brothers and sisters in Christ (a lot of whom I was given the privilege of meeting at or through St. Stephen’s!) that I am able to continually seek Christ, and have a yearning to share my faith with others.
I remember being hesitant to choose UAB, none of my friends were going there, and I honestly had no clue what I wanted to do… it wasn’t looking too good. But through the grace of God, I am getting ready to head back for my third year. Going into this year, I find an enormous amount of joy, consolation, and confidence in the fact that my Heavenly Father has placed me here with a purpose! I look back on my time so far at UAB, being a part of the community at St. Stephen’s, building Christ-centered friendships with people who are leading me to Heaven, continuously growing in my faith, laughing and crying, and I realize what a blessing it has been in my life, and will continue to be in my life. I am so thankful for a community like St. Stephen’s. Every day has its ups and downs, and while I have no idea what the future holds, I live every day knowing that God has placed me where I am. He has put amazing people in my life, and this brings me incredible peace.
-Marilou Jackson, class of 2022
St. Stephen's is home to students from UAB, Samford, and Birmingham-Southern.
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