Coming to SUNY New Paltz meant leaving home, knowing no one and honestly, not knowing what the hell to do.
My brother was the first to graduate college in my family, but he was a commuter for all four years and attended a Catholic university, something that we’re used to.
My brother and I went to Catholic school for most of our lives. I’m talking uniforms, some nuns and strict discipline.
For high school I went to an all girls catholic school in the West Village. With a long commute from my Brooklyn home and not a lot of diversity, high school wasn’t exactly the average experience.
I’m not saying that I did not have a good time, but I’m also not saying I would go to the 10 year reunion. School was seven hours long, and each year I questioned why I chose to go to a school where theology classes and spiritual retreats were the norm.
Growing up in a traditional Catholic household and attending Catholic schools, I thought religion was the usual. Whether any of the girls believed in it or not, they were present for Liturgy and went to mass with their families.
Coming to SUNY New Paltz was the first time in a long time where I would return to a secular school and I thought “Great! Religion classes aren’t mandatory!”
It was strange at first to have to think what I was going to wear everyday and once again having men in the classroom.
People here were amazed at the fact that all girls Catholic school’s are a thing that people attend and it was interesting hearing how so many people rejected religion.
There were some moments of freshman year, that were truly tough and difficult and my religion was really the only thing I had.
One Sunday when I visited back home, I went to church with my family after a while and it felt like home. Not home in the way most people think of home though.
My parents were happy that I went with them, it was a sort of bonding experience and it reminded me that I do actually believe in the religion I was born into — or at the least, respect it.
I think a good analogy to this would be the movie Lady Bird, where Christine or “Lady Bird” goes to a Catholic high school as well and has a rough time fitting in because of her economic status and overall headstrong personality.
She ends up going to New York for college and feels free to do well, whatever the hell she wants. After being hospitalized for a night of heavy drinking, however, Christine attends mass and then calls her mom, apologizes and thanks her.
I was not a great Catholic girl student, but I do respect my parents decision and in the end, I feel like they truly only wanted the best for me. It takes time to come into terms with what you do or don’t believe in and sometimes it may surprise you that you’ve known all along.
Also, this really isn’t about encouraging someone to be Catholic or be religious because it’s definitely not for everyone, all I’m saying through this rant of a column is that I’ve come to terms with what I believe.