At the Dayton Catholic Homeschool Conference, there was a panel for high schoolers going into college. The panel was made up of two young men and two young women. The two young men had both completed their freshman year of college, and one was going into his sophomore year with junior status. The two young women were sisters; one was 23 and had just graduated, the other had gone straight into a full-time job out of high school.
About a year earlier, I attended a panel offered by two Notre Dame grads.
The difference between the topics covered and the questions asked was striking.
Reflecting on the Notre Dame panel last year, I recall their having covered the admissions process, giving advice on essays and recommendation letters, talking about housing, tuition, sports, dealing with homesickness and finding one’s “home-away-from-home,” and touching briefly on the Catholic culture of Notre Dame University.
Then there was the Dayton panel. If you asked me to describe the Notre Dame panel in three words, I’d say “test scores” and “finances.” If you asked for the same about the Dayton panel, I’d only need one; “Faith.”
The Dayton panel had no presentation prepared. They were simply available for about an hour and a half to answer questions from Catholic homeschoolers. There were a few parents sitting in to listen, but this session was really for the teens to express their concerns about college. The only parent who did any talking was the one overseeing the whole thing, and though he sometimes added a thing or two to the questions of the teens, or perhaps asked them to clarify or elaborate, all he was really there for was to read out the questions that teens had written down beforehand in a notebook. Once we ran out of those, the teens just kept asking.
It provided the most interesting insight into the minds of Catholic homeschooling teens.
Finances were nothing. Money was not brought up by either the teens or the panel. That was the first thing that hit me. These guys were concerned about their education, without regard to financial difficulties, trusting that the Lord would provide and that they could shoot for schools like Ave Maria and FUS, no problemo.
So what were their questions?
Well, there was one about cafeteria food :) We were assured by the panel members that it wouldn’t kill us.
Then there were questions on time management. Big thing for homeschoolers who are used to having as much time as they need to complete anything, and don’t normally dig timed tests. I hear ya.
But the questions were mostly Faith-based: Is it difficult to live out your Catholic Faith in the college setting; How do you deal with liberal-minded professors and students; Are/Were your experiences different based on where you went/are going (we had the one lady in the work force, her sister went to a secular college, and I believe both guys are attending Catholic colleges… I’m sure at least one is, maybe the other isn’t, I can’t remember now); In what areas of your Faith did you feel most challenged; and my personal favorite, this question came from a girl that I’d estimate to be about fifteen, and you could tell from the tone of her voice that she was very seriously concerned about this, How do you be friends with someone who isn’t Catholic?
The panel’s advice was simple and mature. Immerse yourself in your Faith while you’re still in high school. Ground yourself in it. Know It. One of the ladies said, “Take an Apologetics course.” Evangelize by your example. BE a presence that commands respect. See opposition as an opportunity to enlighten. One of the guys quoted St. Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Are you hearing this? These are young adults who know what really matters in life. College isn’t the issue here. The issue here is heaven.
Poor girl asking that last question — she really did sound as if she could not conceive it possible to be friends anyone outside her faith. She elaborated on her question — basically, how do you balance the obligation you have as a Catholic to evangelize… and still be friends with someone? I hope she hasn’t had trouble with that in past, bless her heart. I smiled when one of the guys voiced what was going on in my mind; he used the example of one of his closest friends being an atheist.
I’m thankful for the exposure that my parents have allowed me. I, too, have had to ask myself sometimes, How do I keep things balanced? I have many close friends that are Catholic, but some among my best that are not. I know I have an obligation to try and evangelize, without being obnoxious about it. And I know I can get prettyyy obnoxious if I let myself.
I know Nate won’t mind me saying this :) Our friendship is a perfect example. He knows perfectly well I don’t agree with him on a number of moral issues, I know he doesn’t agree with me. We find plenty of fault in each others’ logic, and yes, the conversation can get heated sometimes. But the bottom line is that we respect each other as people, we respect each other’s opinions, and we value each other enough to stay good friends despite. I once told someone that I sometimes felt as if I benefited more from Nate’s opposition than from anyone else’s support on a particular matter. Disagreeing with him actually helped me stay focused, because his promptings helped me to clearly evaluate the logic behind my own stance.
Hmm… I digress.
So there we go. The contrast between the focuses was just… sad. In some ways. How do you get kids like that? who just… have that grasp of what the real issues are? I’m not so biased as to say that it’s obviously Catholic homeschooling and impossible for kids to reach that level of understanding any other way. Perfect example for me — Cmela’s got that same grip on things. Our wall-to-wall a couple months ago:
Cmela ~ girl, a catholic is a catholic.
liberal catholics are….. stupid for trying to change the system. they need to get real. haha.
me ~ hahaha. here, i’ll put it this way — i believe that there is a difference — between a PRACTICING Catholic and a CAFETERIA Catholic :D
and yes, they totally need to get real. Faith and intelligence are inextricably linked. i just wanna yell sometimes DUDE PLEASE DON’T INSULT OUR INTELLIGENCE BY SAYING ANY PART OF CATHOLICISM IS ILLOGICAL!
:D anyone pre-Reformation times would be able to tell you that. isn’t that sad?
Cmela ~ haha exactly, religion isnt formed for one’s needs alone, but rather for everyone’s :)
besides, you cant be invested in something and not be fully in it… if you’re a catholic, then you need to exercise everything that the catholic church teaches! you cant just pick activities that you want!!!!
IF ONE DOES NOT FULLY LIVE OUT BEING A CATHOLIC, get the eff out! hahah that was kinda mean, but thats what i feel. Jesus still loves them tho, haha.
So what is it, then? Liberal Catholicism is… well, a heresy. Isn’t it? This is the “Modern Heresy” as predicted by Hilaire Belloc.
Hmmm… I am so OT. What was I talking about? Comparing perspectives of two sets of panels? Yeah, something like that. So how do you get kids — well, people, in general — to put the Faith over the finances? Oh, I’m sleepy. Goodnight.
~END BRAIN DUMP~