Growing up, I attended public school where I only knew a couple other Catholics. I had seen kids my age at Mass on Sundays, at CCD and in the confession line, but at school, I often felt alone in my beliefs. I was frequently challenged by teachers to defend my faith, I took the minority position in most classroom debates, and my belief in God was a convenient punchline for my peers and even the adults around me.
At home, I was blessed to have a loving, prayerful family who enriched my devotion and consistently inspired me to stand firm in my beliefs. While I was grateful to have countless opportunities to choose my faith in a secular environment, by the end of high school, I was eager for a respite.
I decided to spend one year at Christendom College, a small Catholic school in Front Royal, Virginia. My plan was to transfer to another school after my first year. At Christendom, I was surrounded by those with similar values who helped nourish my faith and discovered my future career path of marketing.
For the first time in my life, I attended Mass with a friend, read the Bible with my classmates, and had fruitful conversations about Jesus with teachers. After my freshman year of spiritual rapport, I transferred to William & Mary, where I met some of my closest Catholic friends and had the opportunity to attend inspiring conferences like College Campus Ministry Summit.
I attended Summit for the first time this year.
I got to participate in the largest Mass of the diocese, and also hear Sister Mary Casey from the Sisters of Life talk about God’s response to suffering. But what struck me the most was witnessing so many young people employ their agency to respond to the Lord’s call to holiness. College students often hunger for truth, belonging and purpose that the world cannot satisfy.
We live on microcosmic campuses perfect for testing our beliefs, transforming our minds, discerning our vocations, and searching for meaningful relationships. It is so uplifting to see hundreds of young adults satisfying their desires the only way we truly can – in deep friendship with Jesus.
Erin Liebe is a senior at William & Mary, majoring in marketing with a concentration in innovation and entrepreneurship. Her home parish is St. William of York, Stafford.