Thoughts on going off to college
Guest column / By Maddi Cave
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is a 2021 graduate of Peoria Notre Dame High School. The daughter of Joseph and Misti Cave and a member of St. Patrick Parish in Washington, Maddi will soon begin studies as a journalism major at Drake University in Des Moines.
When I was in grade school, my family took a vacation to . . . somewhere, I don’t exactly remember where. All I remember is that it was during a vacation that I heard one of my favorite homilies of all time.
The priest was discussing the meaning of the word “home.” He said something to the effect of: “Some of you may even be experiencing homesickness, if you’re here visiting us on vacation.” I remember silently agreeing that yes, I was a little homesick.
He continued on to ask the congregation if we’d ever thought about how blessed we are as Catholics to have a universal Church. He marveled at how amazing it is that a Catholic can walk into a Mass in Vacationtown, Florida, and it will be nearly identical to any other Mass being said at any other point around the world. Of course, the languages and songs may be different, but the order of the Mass, the meanings of our prayers, and most importantly, the realness of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ will always be the same anywhere you go.
Sometimes, I feel the word “homesick” doesn’t even begin to describe the way I feel when I think about leaving my family, my friends, and my community to start completely fresh in an unfamiliar place.
He told us to think about this concept for comfort whenever we started to feel homesick — whether we were moving to a new town, accepting a new job, or simply taking a vacation. He said we must never forget that the Mass will be a place we always belong, where we can feel familiar regardless of our geographical location.
He ended his homily with a point that, years later, still chokes me up every time I consider it: that when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, there is nowhere on this earth we can go where we won’t be known.
GOD WILL ALWAYS BE WITH ME
The message of this homily has been on my mind a lot this summer as I prepare to go off to college. Sometimes, I feel the word “homesick” doesn’t even begin to describe the way I feel when I think about leaving my family, my friends, and my community to start completely fresh in an unfamiliar place.
I am the oldest of three siblings, all born within a 25-month period of time, so I’ve never really known life without the two of them. My family has always been a tight-knit bunch; we’ve attended the same parish, lived in the same house, and gone to all the same places for virtually my entire life. I even attended the same Catholic grade school from pre-K through 8th grade, and from there I was blessed to receive a four-year Catholic education from Peoria Notre Dame. In other words, I was very blessed to have always been surrounded by a loving, faith-filled environment . . . and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little daunted by the prospect of going out on my own into a whole new kind of community.
Just when I start to feel homesick-in-advance, I remember what Father Vacation told me in his homily that, as a Catholic, my physical surroundings will never affect where I find my true home.
Just when I start to feel homesick-in-advance, however, I remember what Father Vacation told me in his homily that, as a Catholic, my physical surroundings will never affect where I find my true home. At the end of the day, I will always be able to walk right into my new church (a parish called St. Catherine of Siena, I hear) and sit with my Eternal Father, who has known and loved me my entire life. I will always be able to talk to Him about everything I’m feeling and pray for my family, friends, and everyone I miss — and I am confident that He will always fill me with the understanding and confidence I need to find my purpose amidst unfamiliar territory and meet new friends, who I can love just as much as the ones I miss.
Despite how daunting college seems to be, my confidence in God, His plan for me, and His desire for me to succeed have created in me a fiery excitement for college that has so far trumped all other feelings. I can’t feel scared, knowing that God will always be right with me, making me feel at-home and empowered no matter where I am.