By Justin Matuszewski
Every Sunday, my parents, two siblings, and I sat in the same pew for the nine-thirty Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Brighton, Michigan. I attended a Catholic school in middle school where I made close friends and learned about Jesus and his Church. I regularly heard from teachers and priests about the Mass, Sacraments, and Jesus’ unwavering love for me. Starting from my days at St. Pat’s, I have always tried to have a close relationship with Jesus.
Throughout middle school and high school, I continued to strive for that relationship. I nourished our relationship by attending weekly talks and Bible studies through Young Life, a nondenominational Christian youth group. I grew closer to him each week and tried to follow His will for my life. Still yet, like all of us at one point or another, I faltered in my attempt to follow Him. Although I continued attending Sunday Mass, I felt disconnected from Christ. But I will never forget the moment he called me back.
A new, younger pastor had started at our parish. He was very passionate about Jesus and the need for everyone to completely surrender their lives to him. He gave a homily about his background and journey, and before he held up Communion in front of the Congregation, he said: “Come up to Communion like a child, humble and willing to accept everything Jesus offers you.”
I went up to receive Communion. I said “Amen” when I received the host as I had so many times before, and I returned to my seat. And as I prayed in the pew, I sobbed. I felt an enormous amount of grace and love at that moment. It was like Jesus, somehow, was saying “No matter what you have done or will do, I will always love you” directly to me. Even today, words cannot describe the love Jesus showed me. I believe personal encounters with our Lord like these are why I have remained strong in my Catholic faith, but the only way to remain open to these encounters is to come to Jesus like a child, humble and willing to accept what he offers.
When I started my freshman year at DePaul, I was excited to see what groups the largest Catholic school in the nation had to offer. I knew I found something special as I set foot in St. Vincent’s for the first Sunday Night Mass. Everyone around me was warm and welcoming; the group of students made me feel at home. They invited me to become more involved in CCM through small groups and serving at Mass. Thankfully, I accepted the invitation. Through CCM, I have grown closer in my relationship with God and others. These relationships have helped inspire me to volunteer more. I took my spring break to go to New Orleans to rebuild homes devastated by natural disasters. After my first year, I truly understand it is not enough just to go to church on Sunday. It is our duty as Catholics to be Jesus’ hands and feet, and serve the community around us.
I am still encouraged when I see the vast number of college students who practice their Catholic faith at DePaul. I think it is important to surround myself with the right people, and I believe I have found these people in CCM. Whether it be at small group each week or in the CCM office, I am constantly challenged to become the best version of myself. Through my time at DePaul, I hope to continue growing closer to Jesus, and I look forward to what he has in store.