My mom’s side of the family is Italian, so naturally, I grew up Catholic. We attended Mass on (most) Sundays, I received all the Sacraments and was forced to pray at meals and before bed. It wasn’t until Confirmation rolled around in 8th grade that I truly started to feel connected with and own my faith. As if a switch had flicked on in my brain, I completely believed it for the first time. Unfortunately, that “Jesus-high” was kickstarted by the combination of an intensely spiritual retreat and my extremely emotional teenage self, so my passion for Catholicism eventually fizzled out. For most of high school, I did nothing to nurture my faith, and might not have even identified as a Christian.
When I arrived at DePaul in 2015, I was completely alone. Six hours from home, I knew no one in Chicago. I was the kind of lost you’d expect an 18-year-old to be and was searching for something to make me feel whole. In my first quarter, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but upon returning from winter break, something led me to waltz into CCM’s Epiphany Party. Just as in 8th grade, something that night triggered the switch to flick on. I felt at home and instantly curious about God. What happened between that night and graduation is somewhat of a blur, because it was just a whole lot of wonderful. I quickly became very interested in and influenced by my faith, picked up a Catholic Studies major, and formed friendships stronger than most I’d had before. Working as a CCM student leader, I led retreats, small groups, and events that not only tended to my own faith but drew others in to question, believe and celebrate in community.
After graduation, my faith life slowly started to shift. Though absolutely gradual and far from drastic, the change was anxiety-inducing for me. I’d gotten so used to my cozy CCM community. Stepping into the real world, I realized I would have to create something new for myself that mimicked the nurturing environment CCM had been throughout my college years. More than anything, I’d loved singing in the Liturgical Choir as a means of glorifying God and engaging with my faith, so I joined the 5 PM Choir at St. Vincent’s. That experience continues to be entirely wonderful, but it also only happens once a week. What was I supposed to be doing Monday-Saturday?
Without younger students to engage, staff/mentors to seek counsel from, communal prayer services, and my nearly constant surroundings being a literal space for Catholic people to gather, I was struggling to keep the same passion for Christ that fueled my DePaul years. And I continue to struggle. It’s not like post-8th grade when my faith vanished entirely. I long for God and am deeply troubled by the fact that I often feel disconnected or don’t take the time. But I am slowly finding a new and just-as-true way to be Catholic. Sometimes my prayer feels more forced than it once did, and quarantine has made any sort of religious routine that much harder, but I get glimpses of the fire that still burns deep within me and know that eventually, I will have that sustained passion back.
Please don’t feel discouraged if your faith life looks different post-graduation. Be open to change and okay with feeling less spirited. Choose a friend from CCM or elsewhere and hold each other accountable for praying or attending Mass. Explore the young adult communities around you. Join a choir or a book club. Often my faith today looks like being the hands and feet of Christ. Volunteer. Fight for justice.
While CCM is no longer a part of my daily life, my experience there certainly prepared me to go live The Word on my own. We always carry that power within us.
Anna Graduated in 2018 and she double-majored in Psychology and Catholic Studies.
What I Anna doing now: QUARANTINING in Chicago with my roommates and fiancé (met all 3 in CCM!) & working as an analyst for a master-agent.