It feels like just yesterday I was walking down the hallway in the Wisdom café hearing the chatter of those enjoying their morning coffee, the door to the sanctuary swinging open with a student coming in from morning prayer, and the pastor eagerly greeting those who were about to take on their first classes of the day. It most likely feels like yesterday because I was a student at UL Lafayette just a little over two years ago. I graduated in the Spring of 2014, but the Our Lady of Wisdom that I know and love has grown to be even more integral to students on campus and in our Diocese.
I came to Lafayette in 2010, from Vandebilt Catholic High School, just a little ways down Highway 90 in Houma. My journey to UL was a new, exciting, and terrifying chapter. I come from a family of five children, and I have zero family members that live in Lafayette. A few friends from home served as a source of comfort, but my hunger and desire for community and growth remained.
Living on campus the first two years of college, I attended class and minimally participated in on-campus activities, but I was missing a sense of enthusiasm and joy. I knew Our Lady of Wisdom merely as the on-campus church on the corner. While Sunday Mass was a priority, it was the full extent of me practicing my faith. It took walking past Wisdom’s café 10 too many times and the encouragement of a classmate to finally push me into going on Wisdom’s fall Encounter retreat.
Little did I know that my participation in that retreat would set a path for the remainder of my time at UL. However, this new direction was not the result of an extreme divine revelation or a Saint Paul-like conversion. It was the simple fact that right in my new town were people who were intentional in forming relationships, and bettering themselves personally and spiritually. They all held a common thread of Christ-like virtue. Just one weekend of being surrounded by others who are on a common faith journey changed my outlook entirely.
From then on, the opportunities from Wisdom to both give and receive were endless. Through the leadership of Campus Ministers and Pastors and the positive influences of my peers, I was given the opportunity to be formed in my spirituality and humanity. At the same time, I was encouraged to give of my gifts and talents through service to others. I was involved in girls groups, bible studies, sports teams, community service projects, and countless other activities both in and out of the Sanctuary. We even went as far as Puerto Rico to serve in impoverished communities who don’t have the support or resources to take care of their basic needs. Throughout all of the various events and activities at my time at Wisdom, one thing remained true: no matter the background, age, phase in life, or anything in between—each student who walks in the door had an opportunity to grow and cultivate exactly who the Lord has created them to be.
As a young alumni, I am still freshly affected from the blessings Wisdom brought to my life. The comradery of playing and praying with friends who have their lives rooted in faith is a gift for which I give thanks every day. Without our common Sanctuary, we may have not have had the opportunity to grow together as we did.
Then, as today, I see new students who are searching for the resources to help them take ownership of their faith and be loved and supported in the process. While my time outside of college is small, the growth at Wisdom during that short time is not. Student participation in monthly Adoration nights has doubled. The number of retreats (and participants) has diversified to cater to every type of student who walks in our doors. Our pews are even more full. The hunger in our students for faith and formation continues to grow and it’s time that the brick and mortar grow to envelop it.
Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ.” As a former student and young working professional, I recognize that even just a small sacrifice can reap great results. I highly encourage my fellow young alumni to join me in becoming a member of the “Lagers & Lattes Club” by giving a gift that will provide the same opportunities to those who are just behind us in their life journey as we had during our years at UL. Just think, what we can do for the formation of our future Church, business, and community leaders when we sacrifice a coffee or two each week and give to Wisdom for Every Generation. It’s our turn!
May Saint Teresa of Calcutta pray for us and be our example to do small things with great love for our future generations at Wisdom.
Jessica Clark is a Spring 2014 Graduate of the UL College of Liberal Arts with a degree in Public Relations. She is currently employed at Bryson Law Firm as their Marketing Supervisor. This blog post first appeared on www.ragincajuncatholics.org.
Click to Join the Lagers & Lattes Club for Young Alumni (Grad Years 2010-2016): https://