Keeping the Faith: Religious Opportunities at Wabash
The transition to college is very difficult for incoming freshmen in more ways than can be counted. To begin, you are separated from your family and friends, living in a new place, eating different food, meeting new people, and to top it all off, you are a student at Wabash College. If you have not figured it out yet, you will realize, come your first week of tests, that this is not your average college.
In addition to the aforementioned burdens, I think one other challenge presents itself in the first few weeks of school: keeping the faith. Whether you are Muslim, Christian, Hindu or any other religion, you will certainly be tested as you embark upon your college career.
It seems to me that college is a pretty good litmus test of one’s faith. You arrive at school nervous and excited, wanting to try new things and encounter novel ideas and people. These are wonderful ambitions, which Wabash will certainly fulfill, but being thrown into the midst of so much that is foreign can be unsettling. It can dislocate you from the familiar and often healthy ways of life that you maintained before venturing into the ever-so-mysterious life that is college. As your life is filled with so much new, something old must move to the periphery of your focus. Unfortunately, more often than not, practicing your faith is the first to go.
I write this article as a crutch for all of those who are on that perilous tight rope of keeping the faith while beginning college. I promise you that many of your fellow classmates are experiencing the same struggle or have previously. So my aim is to introduce the different avenues for you to continue practicing your religion on campus.
The Muslim Students Association, according to the Wabash website, “aims to raise awareness of Islam on campus and to dispel commonly held misconceptions of this great world religion.” The group meets in the Mosque in the basement of Martindale Hall at 12:45 p.m. on Fridays for a prayer service. They also use presentations, videos and lectures to accomplish their mission.
Wabash Christian Men has its roots in Athletes in Action and Campus Crusade for Christ. They have very close ties to Campus Crusade for Christ, but are still student-run. They are a non-denominational Christian group that is open to all Christians and all those interested in Christianity, and they are more than happy to answer any questions. The mission of WCM is to turn Wabash men into Christ-centered laborers. They are trying to balance evangelism with a focus on building firm foundations in walks through Bible studies, discipleship, and regular fellowship. Their regularly scheduled activities are meetings every Wednesday at 9 p.m., football cookouts and bible-studies coordinated by living units. They also hold an after party the night of the national act. The largest activity that WCM participates in is the Christmas Conference in Indianapolis where hundreds of college students meet to worship, learn and do good works.
The Wabash College Newman Center is a student run Catholic organization. They “…pledge to serve Christ through His Most Holy Church, forgetting thyself always, without fear of sacrifice, no matter the cost or penalty.” The club organizes a number of activities throughout the semester in order to accomplish their mission. As the Holy Eucharist is the center of Catholic life, the Newman center works to hold mass in the Pioneer Chapel every other Sunday. On the Sundays when mass is not held on campus, they organize carpools to the local Catholic Church, St. Bernard’s. The club also seeks to nourish their members’ faith by offering opportunities for service of the elderly, bible studies, book readings and hosting numerous speakers. The Newman Center is open to people of all faiths and is ready to discuss theological issues with all people of good will.
All of the above listed organizations were created to serve the students of Wabash College, and they are all eager to accept new members. Be sure to pay attention in the first week of school for their individual call out meetings.
Wabash is an incredible place with the power to help you grow intellectually, physically, and most importantly spiritually. You might think that you are coming to a “public” school, but with a history steeped in religion like Wabash has, it is impossible not to experience faith in some way here. In addition to the organizations described above, you will find issues and instances of faith in the classroom, living units and dining halls. My advice to you is to be open to religion while you are here, and if someone instigates religious conversation, do not shy away. Allow yourself to be challenged, and seek truth.