Alumni Reflection by Ben Gartland

If you were to create a word cloud of the terms I use when describing my faith, by far the biggest – overshadowing “incense” and “Triduum” – would be “Community.” To me, community is one of the central tenets, and calls, of being Catholic.

Community was such an important part of my collegiate experience at DePaul. I saw the hospitality of older students inviting me to be a part of the CCM community when I was a young first year who didn’t know anybody. Through that introduction, I felt connected to a group that ended up becoming some of my best friends to this day, connected together through the commonality of our faith. As I grew older and became a student leader in CCM, I tried my best to be that source of welcoming to younger students; I knew first-hand the difference that feeling part of a community can be in pursuing faith life.

With the incentive of feeling welcome in a faith-filled space, I was able to explore ways to live out my faith. I was drawn most prominently to Liturgy and had the privilege of serving as Liturgy Coordinator for two years, but I was also brought into the Vincentian mission, learned different prayer styles, and attended retreats which all deepened my connection to God in profound ways.

When I graduated in 2017, I remember feeling a little adrift since I no longer had consistent access to the community I had been a part of for the previous four years. But that is part of life: faith, as part of life, evolves and becomes what you make of it. I had to find new ways to incorporate my faith life into my post-college life in new ways, and luckily I found that with the community at St. Vincent de Paul Parish. It’s strange looking to see how my community has evolved by simply changing Mass times from 8:30 p.m. (now 8:00) to 5:00 p.m., but now my community includes both other young professionals and parishioners who have attended St. Vincent’s for decades.  

Now, I am involved at St. Vincent’s as one of the co-leaders of TnT, the Twenties n Thirties young adult group, and sing in the choir at the Sunday 5 p.m. Mass. Particularly with the young adults, creating a faith community is the central focus for me because I know the difference it can make in the life of someone who has maybe moved to a new city or a new parish and is looking for ways to feel welcome. (Also if you’re graduating this year and staying in Chicago, consider this your official invite to check out TnT events this summer)

Who knows how my faith will evolve as I get older and encounter new ways to connect with God, but one thing I know for certain is that the community aspect of Catholicism will be central tenets wherever God takes me.

Ben Gartland Grad 2017