By Sam Wallisch
When I arrived at the University of Evansville two years ago and moved into my dorm room, I had no idea what was in store for me.
Before college, I considered myself a good Catholic. I thought that meant going to church and believing; and while those are good parts of faith, I had yet to learn they can’t be all of it.
As a freshman, I wanted to be a part of as many things as possible. I put my name down on email lists, said yes to everything and tried to form relationships with all of the other people around me.
I over-extended myself, spending long nights on the floor of my dorm room frantically trying to memorize vocabulary because I had too many meetings and hadn’t had time to finish everything. I tried to schedule time for relaxing like it was an obligation.
Soon, church and prayer turned into obligations too. Instead of being the foundations of my life, I struggled to find joy in prayer and to find comfort in the people offering to help.
I was surrounded by other young adults questioning who they were, and I began to do the same. I was too afraid to ask for help. I was a local kid from a public school — I felt like I hadn’t had the Catholic training of those surrounding me, but I was still supposed to have it all figured out.
I joined the board of our Newman campus ministry the next year, and I was scared. Although I was truly excited to meet new people and grow with them, I couldn’t figure out why I felt like something was missing. I was going through the motions. My journey had come to a halt, and I was too ashamed of my lack of progress and feeling to ask for help.
Eventually, through a few persistent friends at the Newman center, I started to come to events centered around my faith again and be truly present in those moments.
One of my future roommates, who runs a small group on campus, invited me to her faith discussion group every week until I was finally free to come. One session of faith formation about sacraments (which slowly turned into us talking about anything and everything from a faith-based view) left me feeling warm and whole. I found my group of people who could answer (or help me Google) my questions, who would pray and laugh with me, and understand what I was going through.
It took me two years, but I found another home on campus with my faith, a home built in people who want desperately to help each other journey along a path of faith supported by friendship. Our Newman club is helping me learn how to live a life I can be proud of; and as we go into summer and plan for next year, I cannot wait to see how we can help others on their faith journey.
Sam Wallisch is a junior at the University of Evansville majoring in English Education with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. She is a Newburgh native.