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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Catholic converts

This is the first part of an Arizona Daily Wildcat series examining students of different faiths at the University of Arizona. The Daily Wildcat spoke with Catholic Christian students who were baptised and confirmed recently.

Students gathered at the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center at the UA on Saturday to complete the transition to new lives as members of the campus religious community.

Derek Hartzel, a history sophomore, grew up in a half-Catholic, half-Mormon home. Hartzel was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Church on Saturday.

“”Though I was interested in baptism long before my leaving, my parents recommended that I wait until I was mature enough to make that decision for myself, which I now have,”” Hartzel said.

Pre-physiology student, Kali Christine O’Connor, was confirmed in the center on Saturday.

“”It probably appears strange that someone at the age of 18 would decide to become a part of a community that has been so well known for its traditional rules and obligations,”” O’Connor said. “”Wouldn’t a teenager find a more contemporary religion more appealing?””

O’Connor attended a Catholic high school and was driven away from the church despite her pious upbringing. It was only after frequenting the Newman Center on campus that she returned to her religious roots.

“”I think it is custom and maybe a societal standard for parents to introduce their children to one faith or another,”” O’Connor said, “”and expected for those children to live their life in accordance to their family’s upbringing. But for me, I would say that choosing to become Catholic right now is only one step in my ever-growing faith.””

Sister Diane Bridenbecker, a pastoral associate at the Newman Center who worked with the students undergoing confirmation and baptism, offered her opinions why some students wait until college to make a commitment to their faith.

“”Most of the students (who are confirmed or baptized) are college sophomores to graduate students,”” Bridenbecker said. “”Motives vary from now being in college and able to make their own choices, to a desire for a community of faith as support and guidance, to a desire for deeper relationship with God.””

Bridenbecker emphasized the role community involvement plays in students’ spirituality.

“”They find strength in community and in the celebration of sacraments which support and nourish their faith,”” Bridenbecker said.

The Newman Center, at 615 E. Second St., has served the Catholic student community on campus since it was built in 1926. Daily masses are held at the center at 5:15 p.m.

“”I believe in the universality of faith and that, regardless of which faith tradition you are called to, if any, you are free to answer that call in your own unique way,”” Hartzel said.

 

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