Over these past five years I have changed and grown. My life’s journey has made me think and live out my faith in a way I never dreamed when I first entered college at The Catholic University of America.
I now have different reasons for being Catholic, different hopes for our church. And I started to wonder if those I graduated with experienced a similar transformation.
So, I asked four of my peers to answer a few questions that speak to both their transformation and steadfastness as Catholics. Here is part two in a series of reflections from 2006 graduates of the Catholic University of America. We continue with Erin.
NCR:Tell us your life story in 150 words or less.
Erin: I am the oldest of four kids from an upper-middle class family that moved between Florida and New Hampshire often as I grew up. In moving a lot, I drew most of my strength from my family as my base and my support.
I went to Catholic school from 1st through 12th grade (mom always said she did that for the stability from place to place, and because she didn’t trust herself to teach us our religion), and then decided to continue the trend by attending the Catholic University of America.
Explore this NCR special report with recent articles on the topic of immigration and family separation.
I majored in Spanish. I studied abroad in Spain. After graduation I went to Houston to live and volunteer at Casa Juan Diego, a Catholic Worker and house of hospitality for undocumented immigrants. I continued working there as a case manager for kids who crossed the border illegally at Catholic Charities. Now I’m fluent in Spanish and I go to nursing school full-time.
Why are you Catholic?
I am Catholic because I can walk into a Church and feel totally at home, anywhere in the world. I can see that Catholicism, although sometimes confused, has the right idea. I trust it. I also love the rosary.
How has your faith changed since we graduated?
My faith has changed since college in that I am no longer trying to force it. I remember feeling like I had to show that I was Catholic, and that I was very strong in my faith. Now I know that this comes and goes, ebbs like the tide. There’s no way to force the tide to come in. Patience is key, with myself and with God.
What is the one thing you’d change about the Catholic church?
Changing something within the Church is hard -- sometimes I get the feeling it’s “believe it all or get out.” Maybe that’s what I would change; this idea that there is no other true and good way to practice love or truth in the world. There must be many ways.
What is the one thing you’d keep?
I will always want to keep the reverence for la Virgen. She is a strong, and feminine, human figure who was able to live without sin by the grace of God. Pretty cool.
If you could go back in time, what is the one moment you’d re-live from college?
A moment to relive in college: I was in Panama, after my sophomore year. One of my best friends put me on his back and started running down the street of the quiet town we were staying in. Of course he tripped, right in the center of the town, and I did a somersault over him. I landed with my legs wide open and my skirt around my hips. I fixed this immediately, but the people of the town were momentarily stunned, and then my friend and I burst out laughing. Everyone else did, too. It was an embarrassing moment, but happily shared by those surrounding me. I love the memory.
[Kate Childs Graham writes for ReligionDispatches.org and YoungAdultCatholics-Blog.com. She also serves on the Women’s Ordination Conference board of directors and the Call to Action Next Generation Leadership Team.]
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