09 August 2017

Why I'm Going To A Catholic College

     One more week, and I'll be calling a small room in a mission-style building with a courtyard my home. Every day, I will walk across the well-watered lawn to the St. Joseph Commons for my meals. I will spend time reading in the St. Bernardine of Siena Library, and I will take classes in St. Augustine and St. Gladys halls, and study science in Albertus Magnus hall. I will walk the few hundred yards from my dorm to the big chapel which sits at the head of the quad, overlooking all of campus, for Mass. Surrounding the campus, I will be able to see reddish-brown mountains smattered with green plants. Every night at 11:00, the gate to my dorm's courtyard will lock, and I will be inside, getting ready for bed or studying or hanging out. I will sleep in my small room, in the small dorm, on the small campus of my small college. My small, Catholic college.

     What made me choose a Catholic college? I'm already Catholic; is it really necessary to go to a school where nearly everyone else is, too? What difference does it make, if all I'm looking for is a college degree?

     If that were all I was looking for, I wouldn't be going to a private, Catholic school. I definitely wouldn't be going to Thomas Aquinas College.

     When I began my (albeit very brief) college search, I had three requirements: the school had to be a liberal arts school, it had to be small, and it had to be Catholic. Obviously, these requirements would be different for someone interested in a different field of study. But for me, choosing a college was about more than just the quality of the academics (although that was important, too). When you begin college, you're 18 years old, just starting out life as an independent person, making your own choices and building your own lifestyle. How much would environment affect that lifestyle, that person you become? A lot, I would think. You need a community of people you can trust, and who trust you. You need an environment that will support your morality and your Faith. Because at the tender age of eighteen, it would be all too easy to forget your upbringing and abandon your Faith, if you were formed in the wrong environment.

     And that's really a lot of what college is, to me. It's a time of formation. It's a time when you solidify your values and dig deeper into the truths you're passionate about. You learn about the world, about your field, and about yourself.

     In my opinion, there's too much at stake here to spend four years any old where.

     And I'll tell you something else. Discerning your vocation is hard. No matter how much effort you put into it, sometimes God wants you to be patient and wait for an answer. But in order to hear the answer when it comes, you've got to be listening. You've got to be in the habit of listening.

     This past year, I've come to realize a reason I'm so glad I'm going to TAC; a reason I didn't even consider when committing to it. At TAC, I can really, truly, intensely continue my discernment. I'll have all the tools necessary, and then some. Daily Mass (my choice of four!), Confession, spiritual direction, a chapel just steps away from where I sleep. And peers who are equally as committed to their Faith. As Sr. Scholastica told me during my visit to the Benedictines in Missouri, TAC is the best place I could be going to discern religious life. And it's no coincidence how many priests and religious have come out of there.

     Anyway, this was a really roundabout and scattered way of saying this: going to a Catholic college is important because the four years of college form you as a person and prepare you for adult life, and  being in a place where virtue and morality and a relationship with God are encouraged and upheld can only be a good thing. College isn't just a degree; it's a starting point, a launch pad.

     Plus, an authentically Catholic lifestyle is the most peace-giving and rewarding thing you can have this side of Heaven.

     I couldn't be more excited to begin the next chapter of my life at Thomas Aquinas College!


  1. I'm so excited to hear that you're going to TAC too Maria!! You might not remember me, but we were at the summer program together last year at TAC. :) Can't wait to see you at orientation in a couple days!!

    1. Hi Celta! I do remember you! So happy to hear that you'll be at orientation! See you soon!!

  2. Maria, I found your lovely blog via the TAC website. This is so sweet. I will be a senior this fall and will look out to meet you! I have no doubt that you will find many beautiful moments at TAC, much to your expectations.


    1. Hi Samantha! Thanks for stopping by! I can't wait to meet you!

  3. Hi Maria!! Beautiful post!! I am so happy you will be at TAC, so so happy! My brother Nick will be in your class. :) I will pray for you this week as you prepare to head out to the west coast! God bless you, dear!

    Hi Celta and Sammi!! I hope all goes well!!

    Happy feast of Our Lady's Assumption!
    Lots of love,
    Emily Sanchez

    1. Thank you, Emily! I will look out for Nick! Happy feast to you too!

  4. Hi Maria! I found this post via the TAC website. You have some beautiful insights! I'm going into my Junior year this fall, so I can't wait to meet you! TAC is incredible, and the spiritual formation you receive is like none other. :) Maybe I'll run into you tomorrow when you get here! I work in the library all day...We have lots of books. ;)
    God Bless you!
    Nikki Steltz

    1. Hi Nikki! I'm excited to meet you tomorrow!!

  5. Such a thoughtful reflection on your choice and expectations. My nephew just arrived on campus and he is excited for his freshman year there as well. Wish you both much success. I can't wait to visit him soon as it looks like a beautiful campus. All the best!

  6. What a thoughtful and well-written reflection on your choice. My nephew just arrived on campus and is also excited about his freshman year there. It's reassuring he will be surrounded by others who believe as he does and can express it so. I look forward to visiting the beautiful campus soon. Wish you all the best!

  7. Loved this post, Maria! You may have my husband (Mr. Andres) for natural science this year, but even if you don't, I hope we meet sometime! (I am a writer too; the library on campus has my novel, The Paradise Project, which is set in a place not too different from where you are now!) You are so right that TAC is a great place for formation, discernment, and a liberal education. Oh and a great place for friendship! Our four years as students here were a time of great graces for me and my husband and our classmates and friends...May God bless you and accompany you through these next four years of your life!


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