New club provides opportunity for Catholic students to gather and share faith

By Emma Melling

The room is quiet, the only sound a fan whirring in the distance. A group of six sits on wheeling chairs patterned with blue, green and brown. Hands raise to make the sign of the cross as junior Grace Nichols prays. “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

This is a meeting of Bethel’s new Catholic club, a space for Catholic students to gather, live life and talk about their shared faith. After trying to get the club off of the ground since spring of 2018, the club was finally passed and made official Oct. 29. Club leader, junior Grace Nichols, talked about why the club was started.

“The heart behind creating this is that it’s hard to be Catholic at Bethel, for many reasons,” Nichols said. “You kind of feel casted out…Experiencing that both my freshman and sophomore year really fueled the want to have a space at Bethel for students who are Catholic, and not just students who are Catholic but students who want to learn more about Catholicism.”

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Freshman Sam Nguyen laughed with other students in the Catholic club as they gave updates on how their week was going. “Being Catholic means a lot…I grew up Catholic,” Nguyen said. | Photo by Mara Hayes

Nichols has often felt that there isn’t a place on Bethel’s campus for her to comfortably express her faith. She explained that many Catholic students at Bethel feel this way. The Clarion ran a story last year that talked about this situation and shared stories from Catholic students about finding their place in the Bethel community.

“It’s really easy to be a wallflower Catholic at Bethel,” Nichols said. “It got to the point where I stopped telling people I was Catholic….I was forced to feel ashamed of my faith and ashamed of the way that I connect with God.”

Sophomore Ashley Thrun has also experienced what it’s like to be Catholic at Bethel and the difficulties that can come with that.

“Last year it was really sad because I couldn’t do anything here that had to do with my Catholic faith,” Thrun said. “I didn’t get to learn, or really grow in that besides going to mass, and the only reason I could go to mass was because my mom was taking me…and so, this club is really cool because it opens up the opportunity to talk about the Catholic faith.”

Nichols shared that this is the driving force behind the creation of the Catholic club. The club will be a space for Catholic students to gather and process life together, most likely bi-weekly. Nichols also hopes that the club can host events for the Bethel community and spark conversation about Catholicism. Many Catholic students at Bethel share in Nichols’ excitement about the club finally getting off the ground.

“The creation of this club means so much to me as a Catholic student here at Bethel,” Andrew Mattern said. “It’s a great feeling to know that Catholic students will have a place to grow deeper in their faith with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I appreciate that I get to be a part of this new community that will continue to develop throughout the next few years.”

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