By Ann Marie, The Circuit.
As a Catholic institution, Benedictine College has plenty of opportunities for students to encounter the faith, some of whom were unfamiliar with it prior to attending.
“The word “Catholic” means universal,” said Elizabeth Schumacher, sophomore.“Even if someone does not share in the same Catholic faith, they are still able to participate in all the activities other students do, while growing in community with them.”
“Many people believe that if you do not share the same faith as someone, it sets a barrier between the two people,” she said. “At Benedictine, there are no walls between students, and everyone is extremely welcoming to others, no matter what background they come from.”
In the case of senior Galen Gossman, he found himself in a place of wanting to learn more about the teachings and traditions of the Catholic faith.
Gossman was born and raised in Shawnee, KS. He attended a non-denominational church called Unity Church where he was also involved in youth group.
While looking for colleges, Gossman said he decided to attend Benedictine because of the soccer scholarship he was awarded.
After taking the required Theology 101 course, Gossman began ‘forming questions about the faith.’ Over the course of the next couple years, Gossman took two more Theology courses and went on a few mission trips.
The first mission trip was the start of it all for Gossman.
“[It was] definitely a profound experience. I don’t know what it was that changed me, but something was definitely lit inside of me,” said Gossman. “It was the first big yes I said to Jesus.”
Gossman gives Benedictine due credit in helping him discover the faith.
“This was God’s path for me; He led me here,” he said.
He said it’s also been helpful being on a campus where he can talk to priests, go to adoration and attend mass. “I have all these tools to help build me up [and my] friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Gossman felt the call to become Catholic toward the end of his junior year and has decided to be baptized this spring.
“I started saying, ‘maybe eventually I’ll convert.’ ‘I’ll probably join the church when I’m like 40 or something,’ and that little interest in me and vocalizing that made God call me even more,” Gossman said.
“Over this (first) trip in Trinidad, I was sitting in the most beautiful church I’d ever been in,” he said. “It was in the mountains; it had windows where you could see the valley and I’d been thinking about (become Catholic) a lot lately. And it just felt like the right moment. I wanted to say yes; I wanted to get baptized.”
“Everything was in the right place to God leading me here in this moment, in this time and place,” he said.
For Schumacher, she loves to hear and see conversion stories such as Gossman’s.
“I feel privileged to witness theirstories, while sharing mine with them as well,” Schumacher said.“Having diversity of beliefs on campus provides a platform for acceptance and allows us students to learn from one another, while growing in compassionate companionship as well.”
Gossman’s advice to students thinking about converting is twofold. “Keep asking questions. Hang out with people who are strong in their faith. Go to Mass. Try to identify with it a little more.”
Gossman said the process is a hard one but to “Pray, pray a lot.”.