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By: Clare Braski, MDS Class of 2016// MDS Musings Blog

Clare with MDS friend and sorority sister, Jessy Tallant

Three months in and two major pillars of my college plan – being in a sorority and remaining in my dating relationship – were gone. I entered a long stretch of loneliness and heart-ache. I did not know who to hang out with because many of my new friends were closer with my ex-boyfriend. Luckily, I was involved with the Catholic Center’s Freshman Ministry, Ignite. Although it was not yet a large part of my life, it began to act as the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the girls I met through Ignite was the first person I told about the break-up. The next few people I told were from the Catholic Center. Each person embraced me with kindness. They saw where I was hurting and spoke words of truth, hope, and affirmation to me.

During this period of loneliness, I did all I knew how to do – call my mom and ask the Lord every single day to help me. I prayed for the Lord to heal my suffering and lead me where He wanted me to go. I continued attending Freshly every Monday, Ignite every Wednesday, Mass every Sunday, and, as frequently as I could, the praise and worship ministry at the Catholic Center every Tuesday.

I met more people who wanted to be a source of light in my life. I made friendships with people that built my confidence and loved me for who I was, not what I could be or how well I could fit in. These friendships were effortless. They were full of laughter that made my stomach hurt, conversations that challenged me to think, encouragement that made me feel as if I could conquer the world, and, most importantly, community rooted in prayer that treated me like family.

These friendships gave way to a faith that I never knew I needed. I began reading scripture and journaling almost every day. My thoughts began to include Jesus. My conversations were frequently faith-based. More and more friendships popped up out of nowhere. Joy re-entered my life. I was beginning to give myself to the Lord, and He was giving back tenfold.

Clare with her Ignite small group

Sophomore year at UGA was the year of involvement. Along with school and work, I joined a sorority that I love; led a small group for Ignite; joined the Facilitator Team for Unity Prayer, a non-denominational ministry; and served on a committee for UGA’s largest on-campus non-profit organization, UGA Miracle.

My year was busy, but I discovered my true passion. I realized leading a small group and giving talks at Ignite made my heart explode with excitement. I loved the relational ministry and using my personal experiences to help freshmen better navigate their first year of college. I followed this burning in my heart for ministry by applying for the Catholic Student Association Board in hopes of becoming one of two Freshmen Coordinators. All glory be to God because I was selected, and now as a Junior, serve as one of the coordinators for Ignite!

Isn’t it beautiful how the Lord brings everything in life full circle? Ignite was the catalyst of my healing freshmen year. It was the vessel through which the Lord brought me authentic friendship, and now, He is using it to fulfill the desire in my heart to lead ministry, continue fostering healthy friendships, and increase my faith.

Although remaining Catholic and faith-driven in college was never left out of my plans for college, I did not think it would be the focus of my college career. As an incoming freshman, I was concerned with what the world told me was important. I thought having the boyfriend and all the friends would satisfy my heart. I thought the people I would meet late at night in downtown Athens were going to be my “go-to” friends.

The Lord, however, knew that my heart was made for more. By staying in touch with my faith throughout the last two and a half years, I see exactly what my heart is made for. He made my heart for adventure, discovery, hope, love, perseverance, joy, and living through my identity as His child. Do not get me wrong, college is still hard. It comes with peaks and valleys, successes and failures, times of feeling acceptance and times of feeling lonely. It is so easy to fill useless, without purpose, and of little worth. Holding fast to my faith and letting the Lord define who I am has, and will continue to, make me feel capable, full of purpose, and undeservedly worthy. So, keep the faith – you’ll be glad you did.

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Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, which is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served  a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.