How many people can honestly admit that they wake up every single morning praising God and cramming their brains with Scripture before their hands can even grasp a hot cup of coffee? Before hitting that to-do list for the day, Catholics focus on one thing in the morning: God.
A new club on campus called “Sacred Pathways” has officially been organized by Thandi Dinani, the Director of Diversity Programming. The reason behind the name of the club is based on the idea that Christians all live their lives as a journey with Christ, and for Christ, and need to appreciate what exactly that entails. The whole purpose behind the club is showing students how to maintain their own faith in this college environment.
“I grew up Catholic and honestly, I was nervous coming to Vanguard as a Catholic and was worried about how it might affect my religion but being at Vanguard has strengthened my faith if anything,” junior Mary Arkfield said.
Some of the students struggle everyday with lectures in class concerning religion.
“In some of my classes, Catholicism gets brought up and I usually have to speak up and either clarify or defend some aspect of Catholic beliefs and practices. It can be so intimidating, speaking up in a room full of people who you know disagree with you. It made me wish that I had other people to talk to, people who were struggling with similar things,” senior Bethany Cushing said.
Approximately 7% of the student population is Catholic, which is close to around 70 students, only 10 to 15 of which actually know about the club and are interested in being involved in certain activities.
These activities include attending one Adoration service per week, possibly on Thursdays; meeting and bonding with each other in their faith; attending Mass as a group; having discussions and conversations on the history of Catholicism and who they are as Catholics; and other activities that the club has yet to plan.
“My hope for the club is that it becomes a place where Catholic students can let their guard down. I absolutely love the spirituality of Vanguard, but there are definitely times when I feel out of place or attacked because of my differing beliefs,” Cushing said.
The idea for the club began when students were sending in their completed admission forms to the university, specifying what denomination they were. Thandi Dinani began to realize there were quite a few Catholics on campus and decided to unite them together.
The majority of the Catholic students noted that they wanted to learn how to bring people from different religious backgrounds together and how to continue in their Catholic journey while living on a predominantly Protestant campus.
“Being Catholic in an AG community is hard. It gets to the point where one might start doubting their faith,” sophomore Lea Barcelona said.
“I would love to see this group just grow and prosper and be something for all the future Catholics who come to Vanguard and to bring greater respect and understanding between Catholics and Protestants and maybe even clear up some of those common misconceptions about Catholicism,” Arkfield said.
Sacred Pathways is off to a promising start. Although this semester they only plan on bonding together, next semester will be filled with many events and activities that are sure to appeal not only to Catholic students, but perhaps the rest of the campus as well.
“I think it is really important, as a student, to feel like you belong to something and so that was a great motivation in joining this group,” Arkfield said.
For more information on the foundational differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, contact Professor Gary Tyra or Professor Bill Dogterom. To join, contact Thandi Dinani at firstname.lastname@example.org.