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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Sharing Your Faith is Hard: A Catholic Student’s Perspective

Olivia Hungerford
Some might think that sharing your faith would be easy, but often it is a hard thing to do.

During the first day of freshman year, the call and response Lasallian morning prayer was being read on the intercoms just like it is every day.

“Let us remember… that we are in the holy presence of God,” was then followed by “St. John Baptist de La Salle… pray for us,” and finally “Live Jesus in our hearts… forever.”

My hand rose towards my forehead to do the sign of the cross — a gesture that I had always previously done after saying a prayer. But as I looked around, no one else was doing this. I was the only person in my class who awkwardly had my hand mid-air finishing the sign of the cross, and suddenly everyone’s eyes were on me — or at least it felt so. 

I was embarrassed. I tried to pass it off like I was just trying to scratch my face so no one would notice, but the damage was already done. I thought that everyone else thought I was weird and uncool just for doing that. I became more self-conscious of how my faith would be viewed by others.

From that moment onward, I always felt like the odd one out at times such as Mass, chapel days, or even just talking to my friends and classmates about my faith. I felt as if I was the only one trying to pay attention and wanting to participate in these events versus everyone else around me, and that I had differing thoughts, opinions, and values from my peers. And there is nothing wrong with having different beliefs compared to those around me at all. 

Each person is entitled to have their own thoughts and beliefs about their spirituality and religion. It does not affect my beliefs, but instead allows me to understand those around me more and allows for a diversity of ideas and thoughts. 

Students are not required to believe in the Catholic faith, and a considerable number of students who come to La Salle are in fact not participating Catholics, which is not the problem when it comes to sharing my faith. 

The struggle to display my faith comes when everyone around me starts to talk down or disrespect the Catholic faith. When someone around me says something that’s purpose is aimed to make fun of the Catholic faith, I feel targeted, like the things that I believe in are funny or dumb. 

Hearing that what you believe in is a ‘waste of time’ or ‘stupid’ makes it hard for anyone to want to tell others about that belief. It makes it hard for students to express their faith, especially in an environment that is supposed to support, or at least accept, Catholic students, but instead is a place where they are often scared to be judged or be seen as different.  

It makes it even harder for students to share their faith when they feel like they do not have a community to express themselves. Masses, chapel days, morning prayers, and religion classes do help students to participate in their Catholic faith and allow them to explore their faith, but they do not really help when many people around you seem to find these things meaningless.

In my experience, the people who do care are outweighed by those who do not, and that makes me feel like I should not care about my own beliefs and my Catholic faith because it does not matter as much as other things to the overall group.

I find myself being too embarrassed and self-conscious during religion classes and events to participate. The feeling that no one understands my faith and everyone thinks it is just funny spirals through my head. Even the thought of writing this article made me scared, as I kept thinking that others would judge me or find my opinions invalid. 

Students need to be able to have an environment where they can freely and comfortably express themselves. 

Here at La Salle, this religious environment is created through the religion courses that each student is required to take all four years, where they learn about things such as the Old Testament, the Paschal Mystery, and Catholic Moral and Social Thinking. These classes are focused on inspiring spirituality, critical thinking, prayer, compassion, and participation in the community for the rest of students’ lives, allowing students to ask questions and learn more about the Catholic faith.

We also have seven Masses and occasional chapel days throughout the year that allow students to be able to experience the Catholic faith in person. 

While this religious environment is helpful, it could be expanded further. For example, we could create more Journey-like retreats for all grade levels that allow students to further explore their faith, or have a priest or nun come in as a guest speaker to share traditions that expose students to a different perspective of the Church.

Students have a part in making this environment more welcoming as well. If more students were more willing to try to understand the Catholic faith and teachings then there would be more understanding between everyone. There would be more of a welcoming environment if people understood the deeper meaning behind many traditions instead of doing activities that they never had prior knowledge of. 

It should not require bravery to be able to share one’s authentic self. Instead, students should feel free to share themselves whenever and wherever and feel they are welcomed, respected, and understood while sharing with their peers. 

These feelings of being alone in a crowd are not just felt by me, but by other students here at La Salle as well as students attending different Catholic schools whom I have talked about this issue with. They also feel as if they cannot share their faith with anyone around them for fear of being looked down on and viewed as weird and too faithful. 

Because of this fear, many students feel like they have to be indifferent to all of the negative voices, having to pretend like they do not care or pretend that they too find it funny. 

This issue is not the school’s fault though, nor the students’ fault — it is the society that we live in as a whole.

Our society tells us it is not okay to be ‘too’ Catholic, to speak about your faith ‘too’ much, to say prayer ‘too’ often, or just to be an active, participating, and devout Catholic in general.

I have to tone down my faith and act like I am not actually that religious so that I can fit into our society.

Being a Catholic in our day and age means that you are considered an outsider and different due to the many beliefs and values that are related to Catholicism. They end up being associated with many stereotypes that shed a bad light on the Church and feel as if they are being shamed for what they believe and value. 

Because of this fear of being judged, even while going to a Catholic school, it can feel as if it is wrong to actually believe in what is being taught at school and show it because it feels like your opinions are invalid and wrong. 

Instead, our society should be teaching everyone, old and young, that it is not a wrong thing to be faithful to any religion and share it with others. Each religion should be given respect, even if you do not believe in it, because it means something to many other people. 

This article’s purpose is not to say how bad Catholics have it or to shine a bad light on the community, Catholic schools, and their environments, but it is to try to show that everyone can do something to show respect for someone’s faith and allow people to be more comfortable being their authentic self. 

Being kind and welcoming to another religion could simply be not going on your phone during religious events, trying not to talk during Mass and prayer assemblies, or trying to learn more about someone’s faith and practices before making fun of it.  

If anything that you do will allow for even one person to feel more accepted for what they believe, this will help our society, in turn, become a place where people do not have to be scared to share their faith. 

If we take pride in being inclusive and accepting of others, why not be inclusive and accepting of all religions even if we do not fully agree with them?

Religion is a big aspect of many people’s lives, similar to culture, race, and gender, and you wouldn’t go around making fun of these aspects. So why make fun of someone’s religion? 

You don’t have to believe in it, but please just respect it.

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  • T

    Tom McLaughlinFeb 9, 2024 at 10:10 am

    Thank you for writing this heartfelt essay, Rita. I appreciate you for your willingness to be open and honest about your experience. I feel sadness that you and others feel unsupported and disrespected. Our school will be stronger when we collectively show respect toward the Catholic faith and other religious traditions. Disagreements and differing points of view can be expressed in the spirit of love and generosity. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  • A

    Anthony NguyenFeb 9, 2024 at 9:49 am

    Hi Rita, thank you for courageously sharing your experience of your Catholic faith to the Lasallian community. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells his followers, “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.” As a La Salle graduate, I empathize with your experience as a Catholic student in a society and a generation that pushes away any notion of God and religion. This article exemplifies that you are grounded in your faith and that you are not afraid to share your faith with those in the Lasallian community. Please continue to be this ray of light for others. In a society so divided ideologically and politically, we must remember Pope Benedict XVI’s words, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Our relationship with Christ is a story of love and we are to share this story of Truth and Love to a society wounded by division and hate. Keep the Faith!

  • M

    MichaelFeb 5, 2024 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I admire your vulnerability and courage. I know many people share this sentiment but are afraid to share their thoughts. Great writing!

  • N

    NitschkeFeb 1, 2024 at 8:57 am

    Amen Rita. Thank you for speaking for those who feel their voice is being silenced.

  • J

    Jynelle RobinsonFeb 1, 2024 at 6:10 am

    Thank you for writing this article. Many students and adults share your sentiment. Please continue to share your faith and I pray our Catholic community will support you and those who are inspired by your words.