Embody Spotlight: Grace Verdun ‘24
As a sixth grader, Grace Verdun ‘24 caught her first taste of the beauty of Saint Mary’s College while playing violin at the wedding of her principal’s daughter in Holy Spirit Chapel in Le Mans Hall. She revisited that very chapel on her first day at Embody Theology Institute in the summer of 2019 as a rising high school senior.
“The Embody opportunity was really just perfect. The opportunity to grow and learn from professors and become friends with mentors...It was really cool to get to know people from around the country so well that we can still be friends. The best part of it was how much we got to do and how many different kinds of activities.”
The range of activities helped her grow in faith and self-knowledge. Different prayer experiences, theological lessons, and small groups throughout the week contributed to growth in the Catholic faith in which she was raised. An interfaith panel of women helped her become aware of other faith traditions. Service was also key for Grace. “It felt cool to be from all around the country but yet serve in South Bend with all the same mission and intention.”
Over the course of the week the true meaning of embody is explored via various approaches. “The name of the program Embody, I didn't exactly know what that officially meant until I got there, but by the end of the week I knew this is what I want to embody: I want to embody the spirituality and the selflessness of service. I want to embody also the sisterhood of being a daughter of Christ with anyone I encounter. I think I learned a lot about my self worth too, especially since you learn how to talk to girls you hadn’t met before. I learned to talk about myself and be open about where I come from, how I had viewed myself in the past and how I want to grow. Overall, it helped me become more selfless and it gave me a wider perspective of the world around me and a little insight or hope of who I want to become.”
Grace has advice for any current high school girl deciding about participation in Embody. “Considering all the things I might have been nervous about—meeting new people, living on my own independent for a week on a college campus—those things are just overcome immediately by the sense of community you feel when you come to Embody. There are so many opportunities that teach you how to grow in faith and grow in friendship and know yourself better. Those are worthwhile experiences I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was definitely so beneficial to dedicate the time.”
Now a first year student majoring in music education at Saint Mary’s College, Grace reflects on her Embody experience and sums it up in one word: renewing. While she used to think she had to “have it all figured out,” she realized through Embody “that I can step back anytime to think about what I want to embody.”