There is a lot going on right now. Between illness, riots and the social unrest which always seems to accompany elections these days, there was already a lot of tension this summer before adding on top of that the typical academics, responsibilities and social drama that come with campus life.
On top of all of that, so much has changed on campus. We have been asked to wear masks indoors, maintain social distancing and stay away from our household common rooms for the foreseeable future. There’s hardly ever a clean table in the caf, and I haven’t used a kneeler in weeks.
I don’t know about you, but I am so glad to be here.
My summer looked like cancelled plans, countless days stuck at home and only a few occasions of seeing friends. While I unexpectedly had the opportunity for many visits with extended family as well as much-needed quality time with my immediate family, my summer was very quiet and I counted down the days to what I considered an uncertain return to campus.
Until I got in my car to drive here Aug. 20, I did not quite believe we would move back onto campus. I was waiting for a last-minute announcement of online learning for fall 2020.
When I did imagine being back on campus, I pictured living in St. Thomas More Hall and only leaving for class, Mass and an occasional meet-up with friends if I was lucky. I could hardly picture being allowed to get anywhere near anyone else.
I am not sure I could have been more blown away than I was my first weekend here. So many of my friends attacked me with bear hugs and were quick to make plans to hang out. Orientation team put on their iconic skit, we had the all-campus Monday Mass and typical campus life has taken off this month since then.
Can you believe that Franciscan held its annual Human Sexuality Symposium as planned and hosted Matt Fradd’s first public speaking event in six months?
Just this past week, we had several talks, a Latin High Mass, a Dumb Ox debate and Exc!te’s Festa D’Italia with a line extending out of the J.C. almost to the Piazza dei Santi.
The thought I keep coming back to is “abundance.” There is so much abundance of life here. The Lord is absolutely lavishing us with opportunity and new life. Compared to my desert of a summer, “stanky” Steubenville is practically a lush and vibrant oasis with so many students milling around the picnic tables — an outdoor extension of the J.C.
My household coordinators chose the theme “year of abundance” to mark Carae Domini’s 2020-2021 school year. What an interesting choice for a year like this one. Yet this theme so befits life on campus this fall compared to the crazy five months of “summer” we had. I’m anxiously awaiting my imminent induction to household after seven months of intentship, but in the meantime, there has been so much goodness that has come out of our outdoor household commitments and the way we continue to participate in household life in unique ways.
I’m so grateful to our university administration for its priorities and the way Father Dave and his team have enabled us to live abundantly this semester.
There is much we have lost this year, and much that remains uncertain for the future. For now, I choose to rejoice in what we have been given and trust God for what lies ahead in the life of our university.