Recently, a phone call from a priest friend of mine I hadn’t heard from in years triggered a flood of spiritual memories. His thoughts brought me back to a special time in my life. The conversation we had took me back some 30 years.
It was late May of 1982. I had just graduated from West Chester State College (now West Chester University). My faith had come alive at the college’s Newman Center, in large part due to my attending daily Mass, frequenting confession and receiving Christ in the Eucharist. Prior to my years at West Chester, I was little more than an "obligated Catholic."
The Newman Center kept me grounded. Attending Mass and receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament daily transformed me into a person who lived his faith daily. I no longer went to Mass out of fear — I truly wanted to be there.
At the Newman Center, I went to the community socials and dinners, participated in various ministries and often lectored at daily Mass. The community’s acceptance of me helped me realize I belonged.
The three years I spent at West Chester sparked a flame in my faith walk that will never die. In short, this sacred place became a second home for me and countless other students during our college years.
In a sense, when I graduated, that community is what I missed the most. Indeed, I felt the greatest sense of loss due in no small part to the relationships that had developed there over the years.
Immediately after graduation, I felt isolated. For one thing, I could no longer roll down the street to attend Mass, go to adoration or visit the Newman Center’s vast library.
But through my involvement in the Newman Center, I came to understand how I could use my writing gifts for the Church and, by doing so, enrich the body of Christ — something that I have continued to do all these years post-college.
My Newman-enriched faith remains strong to this day. Being fed spiritually by the sacraments, I have found that Jesus loves me and has called me to share his love with others, something for which I will remain ever grateful that the Newman Center encouraged in me.
Bill Zalot writes from