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Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, August 16, 2017

CYO Champions of Faith 2017

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7/21/2017 9:56:00 AM
It's cool to be Catholic in college
The author, center, stands with a team of Catholic University of America students who seek to dispense accurate information about the church.
The author, center, stands with a team of Catholic University of America students who seek to dispense accurate information about the church.

William Deatherage


School’s out and summer’s in full swing. That means the return of Oregon’s finest faith-filled college students, many of whom have spread their enthusiasm for the church across the country in diverse ways.

Samantha Louie, graduate of Jesuit High School in 2016, immersed herself in the faith community at Gonzaga University by attending student-led Masses. She especially loved the holiday services.

“One I specifically remember was for Palm Sunday. The chapel was overflowing and there was a large sense of peace, love, and community,” she says.

Kyle Sweeney, Jesuit graduate of 2012, is currently pursuing a PhD in computer science at Notre Dame. He enjoys combining his talents with ministry. “Music has always been a huge part of my faith life, especially in college,” he explains. “Ever since middle-school, I’ve been involved in music ministry as a way of using my gifts to serve others during the Mass.”

Joseph Kiefer graduated from Valley Catholic High School in 2016 and has been active in service throughout last year. He recently embarked on an immersion trip to Mexico. “Going to Tijuana really showed me that to be rich has nothing to do with money,” Kiefer says. “but rather with family, friends, and God.” Kiefer is enjoying classes at Carrol College in Montana.

Fellow Valley Catholic graduate Andrew Plasker was recently welcomed into the Catholic Church at the University of Portland. “Finding a faith community was critical,” he says. Having completed his initiation on Easter, Plasker explains, “RCIA allowed me the opportunity to discuss my faith and grow with others.” He is excited to be a dormitory minister next year.

As for my personal experience, The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. has proven the perfect place for me to grow as a disciple. This year, I worked with more than 30 students from across the country to produce a YouTube video series called “Clarifying Catholicism.” The series presents Catholic doctrine to a young adult audience; I look forward to continuing this ministry as I study abroad in Rome next year.

The strong passion of students to participate in faith has captured the attention of school administrators, such as John Garvey, president of Catholic University. When asked what it’s like to be a role-model for students, Garvey told the Clarifying Catholicism team, “I actually find that it works the other way around. I'd say that it's been one of the great and unexpected blessings of ministry job that I am so impressed … by the faith of our students in their everyday lives.”

It is truly inspiring that so many of our local students have found ways to engage in Christ’s mission of evangelization throughout the country. As next schoolyear approaches, one thing is certain: It’s cool to be Catholic in college.

The writer studies politics, theology, and economics at The Catholic University of America. He is executive producer of “Clarifying Catholicism” on YouTube and www.clarifyingcatholicism.org.





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