Secular College survival guide


#1

Hello, I'am going to an secular college(technically university) and my major will be in the fine arts and my minor will philosophy (I'm an aspirant to the Priesthood) and I really want to preserve, nurture, and express my faith while not getting harassed for having aspirations ,maybe calling out the Cafeteria Catholics, and getting along with my potential room mate who might not be cool with Catholicism.....
The College will be: Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI
Diocese: Grand Rapids


#2

I'm going to a college right now, too. If there's anything I can recommend, there's nothing wrong with expressing your faith. But don't be really aggressive about it. That will push people away more than it will bring them in.


#3

For your sake: I'd find friends who share your faith, because they might provide much needed support (depending on the climate on campus, they can make or break your experience). Join campus ministry (if there is one). Visit the local parish. Don't miss mass, and go to confession regularly. Read up on the faith. College is a great time to start or delve deeper into a study of the Bible, the Catechism, important encyclicals, ect. Read a couple apologetic texts and some "must reads" like Aquinas' Summa.
As for evangelizing, don't ever hesitate to defend your faith in class (and in philosophy, it WILL come up). You don't need to make it about you or specifically state "As a Catholic..." or whatever, but don't let arguments against faith slide. Always use reason and logic to uphold the truth (I recommend doing some reading to help out). It's much more credible for others if you use a logical argument (which will exist, because reason enlightens our faith) than to say "In the bible/catechism" for obvious reasons. Among friends, let it be known (in a really casual way, not artificially) that you're Catholic. Don't ALWAYS talk about religion, don't act like you're trying to convert people. Just be a normal, smart, funny, friend that happens to be Catholic. You might be surprised at how many people will start asking questions. Don't go on the defensive or launch into an excited preaching explosion, as that'll scare people off. People in college naturally start thinking about the "big questions" and, especially if you're one of the only Catholics they know, they'll ask you stuff to satisfy their curiosity. Answer them as best you can, using reason and being calm and a good teacher. If you don't know/understand something, admit it and offer to look it up. Don't just say "there is no answer" or "it's a mystery" or make something up.
The most important thing is to be the best you can be and to continue actively living the faith in all aspects of life. Be kind, work hard, be a good friend, ect.


#4

I think this is good advice. If you're talking about your faith more than you're living it, then people aren't going to listen to you.

I'm going to say a few things. I don't know you, so I'm not judging you and many of them might not apply to you. But take my advice for what it's worth:

  1. Don't enter the school with a persecution complex. For some people, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. They think they are going to be harassed, belittled, etc., so they start acting like people who have been harassed, belittled, etc. which paradoxically leads to---being harassed and belittled. In other words, if you come in with the mindset of "it's me vs. the world", then expect the world to respond the same way.

  2. Pick your battles. You are going to meet and interact with people who are going to live lifestyles that you don't agree with. That's a fact of life that everyone---not just Catholics, have to live with. If you object to every little thing that someone does that might not conform to our religion, you are going to wear yourself out, and it might not be worth it at all. Often you will be dealing with someone who adheres to a different religion, in which case, minor differences should not be emphasized at all. Stand up, express yourself by all means... just don't become the overbearing roommate who makes it his job to police everyone's morality. In short: don't sweat the small stuff.

  3. Be a good example. Chances are, you're already living a good life. Keep doing it! Set an example by being a good example. People prefer to be shown, not told! :thumbsup:

  4. Learn from my mistakes: just because you love expressing yourself, that doesn't mean it's always an appropriate time or place to do so, nor that you will always do so in the most appropriate manner. Carry yourself with love and compassion, treat others with respect and kindness first, judgement is less your concern than it is God's. For example, you say you want to be:

calling out the Cafeteria Catholics

But you also say, it's important for you not to be,

getting harassed

Well, if you make it your business to call everyone out all the time, then don't be surprised when you do get harassed. I understand your desire to do so. Embrace it. But also moderate it. Keep it reasonable and sensible, confine it to times and places and people that are likely to listen.


#5

I would just add to find the Catholic group on your campus and get involved in it. It looks like you have a campus church, so that would be a great place to start. I'm sure you can find something to get involved in with other catholics, whether it is a ministry, bible study, or something else.


#6

I went to a "Catholic" college so take what you need.

1) I stayed away from the campus ministry group, there is nothing like getting a bunch of young adults together, who don't know anything and make decisions based on what feels good or Jesus doesn't judge anyone, for wacky off the wall, liturgical and theological nuttiness. But it is possible that your Newman center is better. So check out all your options, including a parish in town to attend if the campus ministry is crazy.

2) Keep a good schedule (wake at approximately the same time during the week, do the same activities, this will help. I was able to go to daily mass everyday besides ski season, because I kept to a schedule. I had a roommate that got up and did morning prayer (LOTH) with the nuns everyday. I did evening prayer is the monks when I didn't have another activity).

3) Keep busy. Get involved in lots of things that aren't religious based. Take hard classes in lots of subjects, (science, math, history, political science, business, English, economics). Get involved in some intramural sports (or varsity), get involved in a martial arts, a music- choir or other ensemble. (Take voice lessons, something every priest could use ;)). Do fun out door activities, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing. Keep in shape, go to the gym, the pool. You will never have the opportunity to do all these things once you leave college, do them now.

4)Do extra religious activities. Go to adoration at least during holy weeks. Go to special Masses, Chrism Masses, Feastdays etc. Maybe teach religious ed, with another college student at the local parish.

5) You might escape theological nuttiness gong to a secular college, so that is a plus. :thumbsup:


#7

I went to a secular college; there was nothing to "survive" at mine. Sure, there are people who disagree with you/your choices... this happens all over in adult life. At the workplace, in hobby groups, waiting in the line at the bank. Know what you believe, and understand how to articulate it clearly. Use "I" statements rather than "people should," or "you are" etc, when talking about your beliefs.

As far as professors, pick your battles. If you can clearly articulate the Catholic side, then do so, if not, I didn't worry about it. If you think it would harm your grade/standing in class, perhaps that's not a battle worth fighting at that time; I never had any professors who were like that, luckily. They always liked a well-reasoned defense, even if they didn't agree with it.

We had a great college ministry group/youth groups here.


#8

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#9

[quote="Aggies08, post:7, topic:321249"]
I went to a secular college; there was nothing to "survive" at mine. Sure, there are people who disagree with you/your choices... this happens all over in adult life.

[/quote]

And that's how the vast majority of secular colleges will be. Don't be scared! I think someone else already reminded you on how important it is to not go in with the expectation of being persecuted. :P
If you do end up at one of the (luckily very rare) colleges that are actively very hostile, you can stick it out and offer it up (if it's academically and or socially great other than the hostility), but you can also remember that there's nobody forbidding you from transferring. I'm in the middle of transferring right now (partially because of hostility along the lines of a professor saying "they would never* knowingly* hire a christian here" and other nonesense and partially because the academics were not all they were cracked up to be).

So don't worry! You'll be fine!

PS @ Aggies08- of course you didn't have to "survive"! You had the BEST campus ministry in America. Seriously though, the hostile schools are few and far between. I just happened to choose badly (an all-girl's liberal arts school in Southern California.)


#10

[quote="jilly4ski, post:6, topic:321249"]
I went to a "Catholic" college so take what you need.

1) I stayed away from the campus ministry group, there is nothing like getting a bunch of young adults together, who don't know anything and make decisions based on what feels good or Jesus doesn't judge anyone, for wacky off the wall, liturgical and theological nuttiness. But it is possible that your Newman center is better. So check out all your options, including a parish in town to attend if the campus ministry is crazy.

[/quote]

Agreed. I got nothing out of my college's campus ministry program. There was another church down the road which was associated the college church but had relatively much more reverent liturgies (I'd still call their Masses illicit, but the difference was stark). I started off going to the local church, then went to the school church, eventually grew tired of it, and by the time I ended I was more regularly attending the local church.

4)Do extra religious activities. Go to adoration at least during holy weeks. Go to special Masses, Chrism Masses, Feastdays etc. Maybe teach religious ed, with another college student at the local parish.

While I was nowhere near as devout as you were, some of my most memorable moments were praying in front of the tabernacle at the local church. It brought me calm and allowed me to pray and connect with God like no other place could.

5) You might escape theological nuttiness gong to a secular college, so that is a plus. :thumbsup:

And if not these forums will always be around. :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="smndtupidisaftr, post:10, topic:321249"]

While I was nowhere near as devout as you were, some of my most memorable moments were praying in front of the tabernacle at the local church. It brought me calm and allowed me to pray and connect with God like no other place could.

And if not these forums will always be around. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

I lucked out, my first friend at College is now in her first vows in the Sisters of Life. So I got to do a lot of this stuff because she kept me informed. In fact my main group of friends went to daily mass and then dinner together often. (I was a varsity nordic skier so Oct to Feb was out, but all the other times we went. But Mass was right on campus, the monks held an acceptable liturgical Mass, and the dinning hall was close to the Abbey Church). I only got to evening LOTH a few times, because I was so busy with intramural volleyball, taekwondo, skiing, homework, choir, and work. But I was also friends of some people who organized exposed adoration. :thumbsup:

I was nice to do stuff like daily mass and LOTH, it is good training and good experience to learn about the liturgical and spiritual options of the church. Especially now, when I don't have the time or opportunity (or the attention) to do this stuff now.


#12

So how do I get along with a probable anti-Catholic roomie? Since I would have to tolerate them for 9 months and I don’t want to offend/anger them yet maintain my faith(probably having a stand for a crucifix and a small statue of the Madonna and praying the rosary verbally since that’s how do it)?


#13

[quote="Capuchinfan1337, post:12, topic:321249"]
So how do I get along with a probable anti-Catholic roomie? Since I would have to tolerate them for 9 months and I don't want to offend/anger them yet maintain my faith(probably having a stand for a crucifix and a small statue of the Madonna and praying the rosary verbally since that's how do it)?

[/quote]

My roommates didn't care either way, which will be by FAR the most common response. They were mildly anti-Catholic in the way most people are nowadays, but they didn't actually THINK about it, they just had a sort of prejudice about "medieval-ness" revealed in a few jokes and small comments. You really aren't likely to get a super active and vocally anti-Catholic roommate. Out of consideration, I'd suggest you pray the rosary silently or normally do it during a time you're alone in your room (or maybe with a group of other Catholics!). That's not hiding your faith- it's being considerate to a roommate who doesn't want to hear you making noise. As for the statue and the crucifix, as you're not usually allowed nails in a dorm room, they'll probably be on your bed/bookcase/desk anyway. If your roommate REALLY has a problem with that (which I doubt, most people are apathetic), than you can offer to move these items elsewhere. If they are still actively hostile (really really unlikely) than you might want to talk to the campus ministry/your RA and figure out about getting a new roommate.


#14

[quote="Capuchinfan1337, post:12, topic:321249"]
So how do I get along with a probable anti-Catholic roomie? Since I would have to tolerate them for 9 months and I don't want to offend/anger them yet maintain my faith(probably having a stand for a crucifix and a small statue of the Madonna and praying the rosary verbally since that's how do it)?

[/quote]

I found that if you don't really like your roommate you probably won't interact with them much. If you are busy with activities, there will really be no option to interact with them. (I know I was often gone from 8am to 9pm. You study in the library or your roommate does. Also I know we were allowed to change roommates after the first semester, so that is always an option. Or you could pony up for a single room. (My little brother went to a secular college that was sort of a suitcase campus. Most people did not live on campus or went home for the weekend. I don't know if your campus will be like that, but often ended up with no roommates because they had more dorms than students.

My first roommate and I were not friends. :shrug: We didn't not like each other, we just didn't click. (She did make some very questionable decisions, like going out to party late at night when she was sick with some upper respiratory infection, which caused her to be sick like 2 weeks longer than I was and thus kept me up hacking longer) She moved out after the first semester.

If they are anti Catholic, keep your stuff on your desk or on your side of the room. Pray in your bed, or at the chapel. If you encounter any overt hostility or vandalism then your report it.

My general sense is that you will not meet with actual overt "Anti-Catholics" (Unless there is a campus Crusaiders for Christ, they used to be, on some campuses pretty anti-catholic. Rather you will meet with people, who all they know about Catholicism or choose to believe about Catholicism is what they hear on the media or from really biases sources (like stuff about the crusades, condoms, Church wealth, etc.) As such they don't really seek out opportunities to show their anti Catholicism, rather it only presents itself in the spur of the moment when they are presented with Catholicism.


#15

This post is incredibly well written.

I go to a secular university. Professors (and students) will make some pretty uninformed statements about the Church. If it’s in a friendly discussion, don’t be afraid to correct them. I find it useful to say something like, “The Catholic Church actually believes blah blah blah, though it definitely still relates to what you were saying about blah blah blah because…” It is always good to affirm them to some extent. Use charity.

Also, I enjoy reading about the differences between denominations. This has helped me connect in countless discussions. Imagine someone said to you, “So I understand the pope acts as the head of the Catholic Church and clarifies Church teaching. Why is that? Could you tell me more?” Those types of questions always impress me. Asking questions like that (To a Seventh Day Adventist: “So I understand you observe the Sabbath on Saturday. Could you tell me more about that?”) Not only will you gain first-hand apologetics from other religious peers, but it also opens the door for a good exchange of information in a polite, tolerant manner. A good majority of those practicing any religion will gladly take you up on an opportunity to share their beliefs. I always make sure to ask in a “hey, help me understand more about what you believe so I become more educated and don’t have misconceptions about your religion” kind of way rather than making it sound like I’m interested in converting. Asking questions in a non-persecuting manner also demonstrates that you’re respectful of their religious beliefs and sets the tone that they should be respectful to yours.

And to answer your question in the simplest way of how to survive a probable anti-Catholic roomie: Don’t assume they’ll be anti-Catholic! I would “survive” that situation by simply NOT being anti-non-Catholic roomie. Hope that makes sense.

Overall, going to a secular university is pretty great. I enjoy it, at least. It has ups and downs though. It’s really not bad though…I wouldn’t worry to much about “surviving”…

Best of luck and I hope you enjoy your time at university.


#16

Find out where the other young people go to church and attend with them. Yes, there will be cafeteria Catholics but there will be other men and women who take their faith seriously. I regret not doing this very deeply, there is a girl there who seems like a very godly lady and had I started going to mass at the university earlier I could have met her earlier. But I suppose God has a plan regardless...

Don't worry about the secular people, just focus on your studies and you will be fine. University will be over before you know it.


#17

I'd highly recommend trying to find or start a Newman Club on campus. Although I go to a Catholic University, the secular college right down the road has a Newman Club. Sometimes their zeal seem to greatly outshine ours, which is startling at first, but wonderful to watch.

Most Newman Clubs are student-run, and some have a Chaplain assigned to them by the Bishop, while others will piggy-back off a local parish. One of the greatest thing I've seen is that since the students are at the helm (so to speak), it's much easier to get things their interested in and willing to participate in run.

I did a brief web search and I found that your University does have a Newman Club listed. They have a simple webpage which you can view here.

Other than that, the only thing I can recommend is to live your faith. You don't need to go traipsing around in a monastic habit to let your classmates know you're a Catholic, just show them by your actions!


#18

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