Hi everyone! My name is Thomas Byrne, and I am a DePaul alum (and Catholic Campus Ministry alum!) who graduated in 2019 with a degree in finance. Today I am working for Associated Bank as a Portfolio Manager in downtown Chicago, although I’ve been remote in my Iowa hometown since the pandemic hit back in March.
College years can be truly formative in terms of defining a person’s faith. The responsibility to attend Mass, engage in prayer, and connect with brothers and sisters in Christ is totally on you for perhaps the first time in your life. Your parents or relatives likely won’t be there to shove you out the door Sunday morning to go to church. And that is why the relationship you can build with Christ during these years is truly special.
In my personal experience, Catholic Campus Ministry really helped me to grow in one particular area of my faith – namely, sharing it with others. Faith had always been something that was deeply personal to me, and I had never really allowed it to be much more than that. CCM helped to change this for me as I was able to attend Mass with, pray with, and have authentic conversations about the joys and sorrows that inevitably come with following Jesus with a group of people my age. And these relationships didn’t end at the office door as some of my best friends I made were in that office with me during my four years at DePaul.
The best spiritual advice I can give is to take these years and build habits that you can carry into your faith life as the years pass. Go to Mass, receive the Eucharist, attend reconciliation frequently, and perhaps most importantly, pray. Have a community of faith in your college years that can help build you up, but also realize that your personal relationship with Jesus takes first priority over anything else. This personal relationship can help guide you through post-grad life as you encounter those who may not share your values or may not have had the privilege to develop a relationship with Christ. From there, let the love of God and love of neighbor flow from your relationship with Jesus. Then, let this love evangelize the world around you!