I moved into my UAB freshman dorm a week earlier than other students for Greek sorority rush. On a Wednesday, I decided to try the Catholic College Ministry that I learned about during my previous tours. It was just me and maybe two other people who were there for daily Mass, and I was worried that I would feel the same disconnect as I did at the church I grew up in.
As the year went on, I accepted invites from my friends who went to other churches to see if I could find a community, and it never clicked until I met a FOCUS missionary on the Green. She was always so welcoming to me, and texted me a lot of reminders for their events and gatherings. After a couple months, I felt that I could fit in and started participating in communications with Catholic Blazers. The Catholic Blazers Board, Frederick (our music director), and student musicians ended up putting together a small, musical, worship gathering with a quick message from soon-to-be-graduate students. At that time, it turned out to be the most attended student event that Saint Stephens had ever hosted. We were proud and felt like family.
To expand the family, I went to a FOCUS conference in Texas where I befriended and grew with even more students. The conference really helped me heal from emotional wounds that I brought to college and gave me a direction to move forward as an adult in the Church. It also gave me my discipler, Mary Kopp. She taught and showed me what a raw and aweing love for the Lord and Mother Mary looked like, and how to grow closer to them.
Unfortunately, I became distracted by life and started to fade away from involvement with the Church, but I never stopped going to Mass. Saint Stephens always made me feel welcomed, with a non-judgmental dress code. There was Confession before Mass, friendly waves, friends to sit with, and a place to cry. After my absence, I joined the hospitality team and became a door greeter and a liturgy reader. I loved it and it gave me a sense of belonging again. I loved welcoming people into Mass and making sure that they felt like they made a lovely choice by making time for Mass, and that Jesus was excited to see them in His house. I also loved, and will always be thankful for, all the dinners after Mass and other events. Every broke college student is grateful for a free meal. Saint Stephen’s has given me many sweet friendships, wisdom, and wonderful diverse perspectives.
Thank you, Saint Stephens, for always being there to welcome me back, encourage me, and continue my growth in the Faith.
-Caroline Davis, Class of 2020