Spiritually Seeking: Finding Your Religious Niche On Campus
Spirituality and religious beliefs are one of the most often ignored aspects of college life. Students that are exposed to a freedom that they may not have previously had before, the weekly religious customs are no longer necessary, or at least imposed.
Many students drop off entirely from their religious beliefs, and not always because it’s not important to them, sometimes it was because classes get in the way, or it is hard to find your place on campus. It can also be intimidating to approach a well-established organization with students who may or may not be much more spiritually mature and well versed on the finer details of your faith.
I was, in many ways, fortunate. I go to a Catholic college, and am a Catholic. From that perspective, it was easy: everything I could need to look for was out in the open. I had all the access to church, retreats, and other spiritually building activities that I could possibly need.
Our ministry offers retreats twice a year, as well as masses, and many different Bible studies, which can be offered from a number of different denominations’ points of view. We often have a food drive going on, and there is always a group of people, either students or adults, that are available to talk to if we need it.
However, I was also fortunate to get to a very diverse school, where I can see that many students of many different faiths can find a place where they can come together in a community to grow in their faith together. We have our own chapel, as well as an Abbey across the street we can visit, and the Muslim students have a prayer space of their own on campus, and the Hindu students do as well.
First off, our University Ministry was an excellent place to start. Even though it is Catholic run and Catholic based, we are not strictly Catholic, welcoming of all faiths, and often have interfaith events, such as dinners and an interfaith dialogue. In addition to that, there are numerous clubs for different faiths; such as the Muslim and Hindu student associations, and a campus crusade for Christ.
All of these clubs have their own events, celebrating their own holidays and beliefs. We also have varied week long events for each of these clubs. Along with that, we have numerous clubs and commission that come from our ministry that are not exclusive to Christians or Catholics.
Many campuses have multiple religious groups too, for those who are looking for it. Sometimes they are hard to find, but that may just be how prominent the club is on campus. Even if it is small, its members would most likely have very active members.
This is also a good chance to grow in your faith through discussions with others, both of your faith and of others. There are virtually no end to the variety of people and their faith journeys, and there is always an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world around you.