Last month, Ryan Songey and I volunteered at student mass on campus. I grew up practicing Hinduism and up until that night, I had never stepped foot in our college hall chapel, let alone attended a student mass. I also never experienced “hospitality” in a context other than the Indian practices of this: offering flower garlands, refreshments, and positive words to guests. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to overcome my hesitations and fears that came with these religious differences, in order to genuinely welcome students and practice hospitality in a manner that I didn’t think I understood quite yet. However, the beautiful part of this story is that it happened more naturally than I would have expected.
I found myself surrounded by people who appreciated my presence and efforts to help out at mass that night, regardless of our differences. I also learned that the act of being “hospitable” is (religiously) universal although it may be expressed in a number of unique ways; the goal is to simply make people feel like they belong and that they are not strangers. While it was scary putting myself out there that night, I will forever be grateful to Setons for this opportunity. It opened my eyes to the fact that I am in a wonderful community that will support me as I am challenged to grow and better myself as an individual.
Seton of Gonzaga