“Why I am Thankful for the FaithJustice Fellowship” by Karalyn

Last Thursday at the weekly CCM Meetings I have with the students we discussed what it means to give thanks. In our discussion, I realized that I had not taken the time to think about what I am thankful for in this fellowship. I have struggled a lot with getting these programs I am assigned to up and running and I have taken to complaining a lot. However, with Thanksgiving tomorrow I want to take the time to not complain and go through just some of the things I am thankful for.

First Thing

The students I work with are incredible! I cannot tell you all enough how much I love working with the students at Rider. The students are so excited to have Catholic Campus Ministry up and running that they will do anything, including handing out cookies in the freezing cold just to get people to come over to our booth at a campus-wide event. They also are willing to go out of their comfort zones to make sure events like having mass on campus can happen for their fellow students. There is also an eagerness to learn in all of them. I was worried going into a meeting about saints before all saints day that it would be too boring. Instead, they all took out their notebooks and asked to take notes. They were so excited to learn more about the Church, they even brought up questions that I had to look up the answer to. They challenge me in the best ways possible and for that, I am so thankful.

Second Thing

I am grateful to have this opportunity. Last year when I told people I was doing a year of service working as a full-time Campus Minister, they were amazed that I was holding that position straight out of undergrad. To be honest, I am not surprised by their surprise. It is almost unheard of for someone to go into this position straight out of undergrad, and I am honored that CFJ and Saint Ann’s trusted me enough to take it on. This year has helped me actually experience the career that I had been dreaming about since my junior year of college. I have been able to learn what I like and don’t like about the position and apply that to my search for grad school programs for next year.

I also have learned so much from being in this role. I have learned how to better walk with people on their faith journey. I have learned how to go about being a person who is a symbol of faith on a campus that is not entirely open to the idea. I have learned how to work with the school administration to offer the students what they want and still abide by all school rules. Without this position, I would not have grown as much as I have. I also am thankful for the growth that I will have in the future because I know my growth this year has not stopped yet.

Third and Most Important Thing

I am grateful for my support systems. I would not be able to do this work if it was not for the incredible support that I receive both personally and professionally. The staff at CFJ is beyond supportive of me and the other fellows. I can walk into the CASA at any point in the day and as long as they are not in a meeting the staff will listen to my issue and give me advice on how to proceed. The staff will also send me emails out of the blue of a link to a resource or event that they saw and believe would benefit me. They always make sure that my fellow fellows and I have amazing opportunities, like attending the Magdalene Circle Luncheon with Sister Norma (that was so cool and they managed to find an amazing donor willing to pay for some of my students to have the incredible experience. I cannot say how thankful I am to the CFJ staff, they are some of the most caring people out there and I genuinely would not be the person I am today without their guidance for the past two years.

I am also thankful for my roommates, Q and Cat. These two ladies are crazy and funny and wonderful, and make coming home at the end of the day something I look forward to. The shenanigans that the two of them get into makes me laugh harder than I thought possible. The community aspect of the fellowship is one of my favorites because of them.

Finally, I am thankful for my family and my boyfriend. Almost every night I call my parents or boyfriend and talk about my day and they just listen to and support me. I would not make it through the long weeks or days without being able to talk to them after. I cannot put into words how thankful I am for them.

This fellowship has been amazing so far and I am already so thankful for the experience, I cannot wait to see what will come in the future.

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