by Jocelyn Visnov, Asst. Production Editor
Before coming to Manhattan, the thought of attending a religious affiliated college was absolutely terrifying.
Growing up, I was never put on a path to subscribe to one specific religious label. Unlike many of my peers here on campus, I did not attend bible study or weekly church services growing up, nor did I attend a Catholic-affiliated high school or holiday masses.
The most religious instruction I was given before my first day of the required Arches RELS 110 course (a nod to Dr. McGrath for making my first formal religious education mostly painless) was when I attended a Unitarian Sunday school a few years back in elementary school. As children we were taught the basic principle that “We are Universalists. We have open minds, helping hands, and loving hearts.”
With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that I had some hesitations about attending a Lasallian Catholic college. Luckily, just like my only previous experience with a religious institution, MC welcomed me to the campus community with both an open mind, and helping hands. Now, the religious aspect of campus is something I have come to appreciate as another form of reassurance that I am in the right place.
One part of the religious presence on campus that I quickly learned there was no reason to fear was the required religious studies courses. Not once on campus has anyone tried to convert or shame me for my beliefs or lack of previous knowledge. Rather than being drilled on the facts and figures, I have enjoyed the way in which courses focus on the analytics and reasoning behind scriptures and religious practices.
In addition, I appreciate the variety of topics offered and covered as part of religious studies courses. When searching for possible religious studies courses for this semester, rather than feeling lost and forced into a class I had no interest in, I was able to find one that would challenge and excite me. Instead of sticking to a strict curriculum aligning with the beliefs and values of the school like some other institutions, I have come to enjoy the variety of religious education opportunities offered here.
On top of the variety of classes, organizations such as Campus Ministry and Social Action and the Multicultural Center are just a few additional ways to learn and understand spirituality outside of the classroom. Whether you want to attend a formal service in the chapel or discuss patterns of different religious cultures, campus has a safe space for students to learn, practice, and express themselves through religion.
Finally, the aspect of religion I love most about Manhattan College is the philosophy of expressing faith through service. Even beyond the religious studies department, I have found expressions of faith and spirituality all around campus. Whether it is music, art, science, literature, or a plethora of other disciplines, MC encourages finding purpose and helping one another through all mediums. Selflessness is a universal language. Regardless of your personal beliefs, participating in community service and helping your fellow man is something we can all agree on.
I have never identified with a specific label or religious practice. In coming to a Lasallian Catholic college after not having much of a religious background growing up, this was a big concern of mine.
However, continuing to explore faith and spirituality is now something I look forward to participating in, because I know that on campus, I can do so in a way that I feel both comfortable, and welcomed.