University Students in Class. Wikimedia Commons

New Air at the University

The American university students sent some testimonies to the CL National Diaconia about their lives within their colleges. We publish some of them here.
Jen Patton and Mary Kroetz

Being at a photography school, my classmates are interested in photography and art. But what is interesting to me is that most are not interested in the history of art. Honestly, I can say that I am interested in and know who Caravaggio is only because of the Movement. We are really narrow minded–meaning, if it doesn't affect our school, we don't know what is happening. The war and the elections are never discussed, or, if they are discussed, it is only a superficial “This is what I heard on the news so now it is my opinion” type of discussion.

CLU for me is simple: it is my life. This means that I take the judgments, School of Community, and the politics flyer in me to my school. My school doesn't have clubs or let you hang flyers, etc, so I have been inviting my friends to do School of Community or come to my house for dinner. Because I am just starting with a community here in Santa Barbara, the CLU people around the world have been a huge reference point for me. I stay close to Mary Alice and Katie in Sacramento and Stella and Fedi in NY. They help me to judge my life, my studies, etc. CLU helps me to see that the problems, the difficulties, and the beautiful things are given to me by the One who loves me and so I embrace them. This sometimes is hard to do but the CLU, and in particular those friends, help me to be certain of His love for my life.

This past year has been an explosion–first, with the community in Thomas Aquinas College, which is about 45 minutes from Santa Barbara, and, now, with my small community here. California has a mini-vacation at the end of the summer and this year two friends from my school came. It was amazing to see them there, so attentive, so happy. When we returned, we started a School of Community. My one friend has graduated and moved to Georgia but my other friend Jenn and I, along with an Italian exchange student at UCSB, are having School of Community. Jenn and I went to NY so she could meet my friends there, since she plans to relocate there after graduation. She was so moved in NY, honestly, every night she would ask me, “Will they hang out with me when I move here, and can I do School of Community with them?” Miracles have taken place this year. I have begun to understand the unity that Giussani speaks of. This companionship has changed my life.
Jen Patton, Santa Barbara

I can only say that the start of CLU this year was exceptional at Yale. Evelyn, an undergrad at Yale, informed me of a day at the beginning of the semester set aside for university organizations to advertise and promote their clubs to the incoming freshman. The first School of Community began at Yale during last year, and so Evelyn asked if we as CLU could participate in this event this August. A friend of ours, Chiara, who was staying in Connecticut for an internship, came to help us. We made a poster for the CLU table which had a quote from The Religious Sense and we organized pictures from the past vacation as well as from university life, and descriptions of our aims in terms of culture, charity, and mission. We also handed out Traces and flyers inviting people to our School of Community. There were 4 of us who organized the CLU table: Chiara, Evelyn, and I, and then another student, Brandon, who joined us last year. For me, it was great to hear how he described to these people why he was there. It was a complete success because, first of all, it gave us the opportunity to show we exist here in the university life at Yale, and to talk with our peers about what was important to us. It also gave us the opportunity to meet and show our presence to the Dean, some faculty, and the student body. By the end of the afternoon, we collected names and e-mails from about 30 people who were interested in us, and we had a number of interesting discussions.

From this beginning, the School of Community began again at Yale. With the help of Giovanni in New York and the Canetta family, we prepared the first School of Community for this year at which both Evelyn and I gave testimonies of how CLU helps us live our lives as university students. After this, we returned to Why the Church?, but School of Community is difficult for us. Now, about 4 or 5 people come every week but, despite our attempts, only 2 of us have the book or work on the material ahead of time. Also, the majority of the people who come to School of Community are not Catholic. Sometimes it is not simple starting even from the title of the book, Why the Church?. For example, Brandon is Protestant. But he stays with us because he is interested in what is said and is provoked by it, and sees this as something for him. I would like to have help in understanding better for myself what School of Community is for me, and how it relates to my daily life as well as how it is a help to work on School of Community together with people of different faiths.
Mary Kroetz, Yale