Thursday, April 3, 2008

College Essay

More Than a Retreat

The Candidates and their parents met at the church with the youth leader, Scott Morin and were given a basic run down the itinerary. After the meeting the candidates loaded onto a shuttle bus and an hour and a half later we reached the Craigville retreat center on Cape Cod. We were assigned our rooms and room mates and dispersed. At that moment on Friday we were all strangers, but by Sunday we’d be as close as family. Over the next two days we participated in group activities and listened to “witness talks”.

It has been said that religion is an outdated system to control the masses. But for one young teenager the Catholic Church became a guide and a second family all because of one weekend spent on Cape Cod. I was that teenager, and that weekend changed my life for the better.

The trip itself took place on a weekend in late January of my sophomore year. It is an annual event hosted by the Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden. I had been going to classes at the church for several months in preparation for my conformation. Until that weekend I did not believe in God in a physical sense. I had had discussions of him in a purely metaphorical way but there was no belief in those thoughts. I was under the jaded impression that if there was a god, why he or she didn’t fix the problems with the world. But the retreat was mandatory for confirmation candidates, and my parents forced me to go.

Out of everything that was down that weekend, the witness talks had the biggest impact on me. Each talk was written by people around my age about family and friends, the community and the church itself. The talks were each about the speaker’s life and their faith. Just to here the conviction with which they spoke and the love of god in their voice was enough to make me doubt my previous ideas about religion. By the end of the weekend something had changed; as cliché as it sounds my eyes were finally open. It felt like the world was a new and wonderful place. I began going to the Youth Mass on Sundays at 5pm, and the youth group meetings on Wednesday evenings. The greatest thing was that the people at the church welcomed me with open arms. They treated me as though I had always been there, for the first time I really felt like I was a part of something incredible.

It’s been two years now since that first retreat, and I feel like a completely different person. I’ve become very active in the church itself. I’ve gone on three other retreats since that very first one. One of them was last year’s confirmation retreat. I volunteered to help other people to find their faith, in much the same way I have. The other two retreats were meant to help the youth leaders to develop ties with each other and obtain a team mentality; although it really wasn’t necessary for the team mentality. The youth leaders were already as close as a family, we are all different, from age, to upbringing, and down to the cities we live in. But we are all brought together by our faith in Jesus Christ.

According to Webster, faith is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”. Webster’s definition is a very dry explanation of what faith is. Often that definition is used by religious critics to ascertain their beliefs on the foolishness of religion in. Everyday there are more critics proclaiming atheism, making it difficult to be open about your religion. It has gotten to the point where you cannot publicly mention Christmas, Hanukah, kwanza, or any other holiday affiliated with religion, without being verbally assaulted. Our society has become awash in double standards; Tom Cruise can believe in alien souls trapped in human bodes, but if someone mentions Jesus in a serious tone they are immediately discredited in the public eye. Double standards like this one make it difficult to be open about being Catholic, but thankfully I have the ministry at Immaculate Conception to fall back on. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for the IC Youth Ministry. They have taught me that to have faith may not be the easiest path to follow but to lack faith and live in a world without the light and love of God is a far worse fate.

1 comment:

Derek D5 said...

This is the college essay that got me into Boston University. I really enjoyed writing it because it gave me a chance to really work on editing my own work to a very refined state.