Ecumenical and Interfaith Life
What Students Say . . .
"When looking at Saint Mary's as a prospective college to attend, I harbored a lot of doubts as to whether or not I would be comfortable in a predominantly Catholic environment. I've grown up as a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and, prior to coming to Saint Mary's, had attended only Lutheran schools.
My faith means a lot to me and I was worried that I wouldn't fit in at Saint Mary's because of being Lutheran. However, as time passed, I began to learn the true, caring nature of the people on this campus. Instead of being persuaded to change my views, I was aided in my search for a place where I could feel comfortable worshipping and was affirmed for being strong in the faith that I had grown up in.
My experience at Saint Mary's has been an opportunity to share what I believe with the people I interact with here and, in turn, they educate me about their own Catholic faith. I'm so glad that I have had this opportunity to grow, both as an individual and as a child in God's family. I worship on Sunday with the congregation of St. Paul's Lutheran Church. When I return to campus to share the rest of the day with all of the friends that I have made, I know that I am truly blessed to have been given the chance to cultivate my faith in such an enriching environment. I'm now in my senior year at Saint Mary's and I know that I couldn't have made a better decision."
"Attending an all women’s Catholic college has never hindered my ability to practice my faith, Islam. My experience at Saint Mary’s College has provided a comfortable environment for me to share my religious tradition with the campus. Campus Ministry has done a wonderful job of reaching out to students of various religious backgrounds. The Office of Multicultural Services and Student Programs and the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership have created an atmosphere in which they encourage diversity and the learning of different cultures and religions. These organizations have provided me resources to further develop as an individual and educate others. Whether it is reading verses from the Holy Qur’an for the September 11 memorial service or presenting and celebrating the Holy Month of Ramadan with the Middle Eastern club, Al-Zahra with fellow students and faculty, a sense of acceptance and interest exists which has allowed me to grow and embrace my faith even more.
Prior to attending Saint Mary’s, a few people commented on my decision to attend a Catholic college despite being a Muslim. It never occurred to me that it would be an issue. While growing up, I have always been the sole Muslim student in my classes. At Saint Mary’s I have been able to share with my friends, residents as a Resident Advisor and also contribute in class discussions. As a third year student, I am looking back at how much I have grown in my faith and how I have learned from others. I believe that many of us share a common tradition and that is wishing peace among everyone and becoming agents of change. Saint Mary’s College fosters a welcoming setting where anyone can be a unique individual while observing her own religious beliefs."
"My faith life, while being at Saint Mary's, has grown so much from when I began as a student at Saint Mary's. In particular, I remember Orientation Weekend, meeting Father John and the other ministers of Campus Ministry. I felt so welcomed. I knew that as a Christian, raised in a Baptist church, the way I worshiped was a little different than the way Catholics worshiped, yet I still felt a spirit of love that flowed from each person I met on campus.
I was greeted by everyone and immediately told of several churches in the area that might be similar to my church back at home. I soon tried out the churches in the area, and also got involved in the first ecumenical prayer service on campus.
Since then, I have been a member of two amazing churches in the area. I have had several opportunities to grow in my faith, and also to fellowship with people of other faiths. As an upperclasswoman, I often invite other students to my church now, just as I was invited my first year. I help with my youth group at church and even participate in preaching for ecumenical prayer services on campus.
I did not expect a Catholic college to enable me to grow in my faith but it has. Having conversations that challenge me in my faith help me to understand my classmates better and to develop a deeper connection and understanding of my own faith. Getting involved in campus life has helped me to learn about others and their beliefs while also teaching me about my own faith."