Finding God on Gannon’s Campus

Contributed

Contributed

OLIVIA HEYSEK

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.” ”

— St. John Paul II

I had no idea what to expect coming into this semester, but I knew everything would look different. I only packed a fraction of my clothes because I felt sure we would be sent home within weeks. On top of that, I was scheduled to take the most dreaded class in any undergraduate physician assistant student’s career: Gross Anatomy.
The fear of the unknown was eating me alive, and the only thing I knew for certain was that I desperately needed to give it all to God. Now near the end of the semester, despite all the struggles and hardships, I see how God made sure he was there for me. I just needed to continuously turn towardshim. This semester was not the first time I’ve had to deal with fear. Anxiety has been a massive struggle in my life. Looking back on my life, it’s comical how many things I was deathly afraid of.
I was the lame kid who refused to sleep without a night light, ride a rollercoaster or even THINK of stepping foot in a haunted house. I struggled with depression for years, and am so blessed to have found the help I needed to develop a healthy mindset. However, I didn’t find true joy in my life until I developed a personal relationship with God.
Even within my life’s hardships, God was reaching his hand out to me, but I didn’t take it right away. Eventually encountering him made me feel joy I never knew existed, and I have been desperate to share this joy with others ever since. Gannon’s roots in the Catholic faith helped me feel at home right away. I got involved with Campus Ministry as soon as possible and met some of my very best friends there.
Between Metanoia, weekly Bible study in North Hall, monthly adoration, attending daily Mass at St. Peter Cathedral, a discipleship group started by Sister Carmen, and a beautiful Catholic community called Veritas, I felt God’s presence very strongly in my new home.
Though this year has looked different and I have had much less time to spend in community, I have still found ways to foster my relationship with him.
Gannon’s new chapel was set to be finished and open this fall semester before the onset of the pandemic drastically delayed construction. This had the effect of fewer opportunities for communal worship. No daily Mass on campus along with no conventional worship space has undoubtedly made it difficult for many, including myself, to incorporate God into the everyday routine. However, God is always there for those who seek him. This has been evident to me as I have found ways to spend time with God and worship him with others. One way, dear to my heart, has been weekly adoration in the Gold Chapel.
A small, intimate space, the Gold Chapel provides a quiet corner of exclusion, perfect for prayer. Each week, a group of faithful students stand watch and pray with God for half an hour to an hour. This has been a beautiful demonstration this semester and not only provided me with a way to commune with God more frequently, but has shown me the faithfulness of my fellow students.
Perhaps it is easy to despair of God’s presence in your life, especially when everyone feels so disconnected and you feel you are fighting alone to keep the faith alive in you. There have been times this semester when I felt that exact same way. However, God never abandons us. He was there to make sure I never had to struggle alone.
I am blessed to have people in my life who inspire me to keep pursuing God as well as an entire army of saints in heaven cheering me on.
If God feels absent in your life, ask him to reveal himself to you, and make a concrete effort to know him. He is waiting for you to come home.
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.” -St. John Paul II

OLIVIA HEYSEK
[email protected]