This article is written in response to the one recently published in this paper titled “Loneliness from within: An examination of Household Life today.” I do not believe the article accurately represented household life. I am a junior biology major and French minor here at Franciscan and have been involved with household life since my first semester. I belong to Love of the Lamb household and am serving as the coordinator for the 2019 year. My household has been my rock and I know I would have had a very different experience if I had not joined.
First, one student the author of the aforementioned article quoted said that as an intent she felt welcomed but that after inductions she no longer felt that same atmosphere. The intent period in household is a special time for that person. As they come into this beautiful family it is their time to get to know the household and its members and to be shown love and great welcoming into that home. Post-induction, the atmosphere may be different because the spotlight is no longer on that sister or brother. “Household is not only about receiving; it is more importantly about giving. After the intent process, you give what you’ve received to other people, to the new intents. ‘It is in giving that we receive,'” states Lauren O’Brien, a sister in Daughters of Zion.
The gossip coming from Rachel’s sisters was wrong, but households are not immune to sin and we are therefore called to constant conversion. We must remember that people make mistakes. In response, we should act mercifully toward them as Christ Himself does. When we disagree with others, it is so important to address the problem face to face.
I have met so many freshmen (and have been one of the freshmen) who came into Franciscan knowing no one and being very afraid that they would not fit in or find their place here. My household adviser was recently speaking to me and my sisters and told us that, in household, you do not have to fit in because you belong. Household is where you find your sense of belonging. I completely agree with her, and the Lambs were the very first people to reach me when I came to school. They have held me up when my personal life was very difficult and they have cheered me on when life was very good. I do not always agree with or get along with my sisters, but that does not change the fact that I am committed to them and to Christ.
Next, a man who has left household was quoted saying that in his time with household, he found himself and others on the fringes of the community, and that ‘cliques’ had formed. He said that Fr. Scanlan’s intention for households was that they become welcoming communities to freshmen and other students. Luke Pipa, the coordinator and a founder of the Defenders of Purity, was quoted in the previous feature, saying, “We don’t want to be cliquey; this is a household, but at the same time, anyone can come.” Pipa and a group of similarly minded men founded DOP this semester, but only after a long and prayerful process. I talked with Luke and he said, “As DOP, we really wanted to tackle the problem of purity that so many men struggle with in our world. We had a very unique group of guys who were very different than all of the other households we checked out, and we wanted to prevent any cliquishness. However, our formation of DOP was not in response to cliquishness in other households.”
The article sparked disappointment in the other households who have started within the last four years. We are all members of the Body of Christ. The process of forming a household is not lackadaisical, as it was made to seem in the feature. These men and women of great faith and fellowship have taken painstaking measures to build up a community.
Katherine Bernasconi, a freshman, speaks to the opportunities she has found in household life. “As a fall freshman, I visited many households by myself, without knowing anyone at commitments, and instantly felt welcomed. I was searching for Christ and a place where I could best love and serve him through the sisters. To me, households have been a gift and they are the largest reason my transition to college went as smoothly as it did. It is because of households, and the relationships that came from the commitments I attended, that Franciscan felt like home so quickly. I may not have felt completely comfortable at every household I visited, but that is because my spirituality is not going to align with every covenant, and that’s okay. The Lord has directly used households in my life to bring my heart closer to his, and for that I am so grateful. Households have helped my spiritual life immensely but especially by deepening my personal prayer life beyond the weekly communal prayer commitments.”
Household Life offers Household Olympics, the Dodgeball Tournament, booths at the Francis Fest, the annual Resurrection Party and individual household dances to draw non-household students into community. The Household Council and each household must have outreach for the students during the year such as a service for their wing, a hike, a game night or offering encouragement during exams.
Loneliness is unavoidable. We are pilgrims who live incomplete as we travel towards the only person who can fill us up. It is in loneliness that we are most united to Christ on the cross. So I believe households are a place to find sweetness in suffering not only by bringing us closer to the Sacrificial Lamb but also by finding a group of people with which to share that loneliness.
In conclusion, of course households can improve, but that is because it is impossible for them to be perfect. The best we can do is work on it. If there is anything we can do in Household Life to answer questions or improve, we love to hear recommendations. Though I regret and am saddened to know that anyone was let down by his or her household, the number of persons who come to Franciscan and have a transformative and uplifting experience greatly outnumber those who leave dissatisfied. So yes, I agree, “As go households, so goes the culture of the University,” and might I say that we are thriving and growing towards that missing piece of ourselves every day.
Pax, Shelby Ellis