Regardless of whether they are Catholic, Pope Francis is someone who absolutely amazes Americans. He is puzzling, he is baffling. So when he came to America almost a year and a half ago for the first time as pope, twenty-four-hour news stations followed his every move.
Here at Franciscan University, we have a unique system called “Households.” Commonly explained as a “Catholic fraternity,” these small groups of men or women are united by more than just a banner, color, or t-shirt. Households are families.
The Carthusian monastery I’m currently living and studying in has steep, slick roofs and Austria has snow built up on every surface from recent storms: the perfect equation for an “avalanche.” At any time of day, heavy snow will unexpectedly slide off the roof and crash to the ground, disturbing the silence and even waking people from their sleep in the midst of the night.
I joined The Troubadour as a freshman during my first week at Franciscan University. I came in as a mass communications major with a concentration in journalism and had high hopes to become a mainstream newspaper journalist. It made sense to join the school paper. I had been a part of my school paper in high school and wrote a few articles so had some experience that would help me be successful, but my editors gave me the tools I needed to do well. Within my first year at Franciscan, I wrote over 40 articles on topics ranging from expansions on campus, student government, the March for Life, and more.
Because of the very broad core program at Franciscan, Franciscan students have the opportunity to take classes with a wide variety of professors from different departments. Within my first semester, I knew there was something very special about this group of people who have dedicated themselves to the education of their younger brothers and sisters in Christ. So what is it that makes them the best?
My friend Isiah Springer-Blacke and I hiked to the steel cross on Book mountain last night. We were surrounded by fog and clouds until about seven pm when the sky cleared up and the stars came out!
Sometimes it seems that the March for Life is the Catholic/Pro-Life thing to do mid-January. We make our signs, try to sleep on a bus, stand for a few hours in the cold, catch up with old friends, shuffle along Constitution Avenue, say a rosary, pack up our things, and leave.
A common thing for students to do before beginning their semester in Austria is to visit a country a week before classes start. A popular destination is Ireland where students are surrounded by the Cliffs of Moher, beautiful countryside, and Irish culture. Four of my friends and I decided to break this tradition and take a riskier trip: explore the beautiful country of Iceland.
Most students returning from Austria will tell you similar things: “It was a great semester.” “It feels so weird being back.” “I’m still processing.” It was no different for me. As soon as I was home and waking up in my bed, the whole experience felt like a dream. Had I even left?