“True friendship consists in mutually perfecting one another and drawing closer to God” -St. Teresa of the Andes
I didn’t have any Catholic friends in my adolescence. There weren’t any practicing Catholics that I was aware of at my high school, and after a not-so-great youth group experience in middle school, I never integrated myself into the youth community at church. My church involvement was limited to teaching Sunday school to second graders and attending Wednesday evening Masses by myself. Physically, I was present with other believers. But personally, I was alone. It wasn’t until arriving at college and immersing myself in a community of faithful men and women that I realized how important other people are in the growth of faith.
As a group of Catholic women, we attend Mass together, pray together, and come together to learn more about our faith and the way it manifests in each other and the relationships we form. The relationships I have formed with these women are so crucial to my relationship with Jesus – they are what set it on fire. My formation pre-university was made of Pinterest links to Catholic websites and forums and Catholic mom bloggers. It wasn’t a bad start, but it wasn’t enough on its own.
I joined this group the my first week on campus during freshman year, and they welcomed me with radical hospitality and love. They quickly became my family and role models – examples of devout women who die to self everyday to dedicate their lives to the Lord, regardless of the opinions of others on campus. It is through their bravery and dedication that I was able to really find who I am in the Lord, away from my family and everything I thought I knew. I found myself, and I found Truth. They are the reason I started to attend daily Mass. They taught me how to pray a proper rosary, to pray over someone, to look to our Blessed Mother, to recognize how great the victory of our God is, and to love Jesus with complete abandon. My faith, and the rest of my life, has changed entirely since the Lord placed these women in my life, and I am forever grateful.