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Seeing the Beauty of God from a New Angle

Recently I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Virginia at the University of Mary-Washington for the 2019 Digital Pedagogy Lab (recap(s) coming soon!) and was inspired by a post my partner Ruthie wrote, which can be found here. When I got home, I was again inspired by Deacon Jeff’s incredible homily at Prince of Peace during weekend mass.

Deacon Jeff’s Homily focused on Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When I heard this verse, everything in my life just seemed to make a bit more sense.

There were multiple times in the past week that I just had to breathe and think to myself, ‘Wow, this is my life.’ I was one of the few students at the conference, and I tried to provide a crucial student perspective of the problems that we are facing. I was also able to gain valuable, yet distressing information about other institutions across the country and the world.

I also am not going to sugar coat it, this past week was hard. One person described it as, “Entering into a graduate level class for a subject you didn’t really understand going in,” and that sums it up pretty perfectly. Another thought constantly running through my mind was, “I get to, I don’t have to.” Having this mindset of realizing how privileged I am to be able to go to such an incredible college with so much support surrounding me, helped me to get the most out of this week.

Going into college, I had no idea what I signed up for with the Full Spectrum Learning Research Fellowship; I technically hadn’t even applied (I applied for a different one and was offered this one). I really hoped to start over and focus on myself during college, and that is exactly what this fellowship provided. I had no clue what to expect coming into college, but I was glad for a fresh start with new people.

The fellowship has provided me with countless incredible opportunities that most students would not even imagine or comprehend in all four years, let alone their first year. I have attended two nationwide (and worldwide) conferences with the ability to present at one. I have also presented for the Board of Trustees that oversees St. Norbert College in my second month as a student of the college. Over the past year I have also been able to present for a variety of other conferences including the Undergraduate Research Forum, SyNC business conference, and Hire A Knight.

In most of these situations I am one of very few students they will ever meet from the college, and I have been trusted to represent the college and speak to my experiences that I have had in such a short time. Each time I am able to present and share what I love, I am reminded why I love St. Norbert and how perfect of a fit it is for me.

Another one of the many incredible opportunities that the fellowship has provided me is the ability to show my work on a larger scale. The faculty and staff involved in the project really let me take the website and make it my own and always were there to support me throughout the process. Finally getting to see my hard work on the website and other parts of the project is incredibly rewarding after all year of our hard work and there has been nothing but a positive response.

I know that each opportunity I have had over the past year, and my continued success is all part of God’s plan, and I am finally starting to see all of my hard work pay off.

Community

Another major part of Deacon Jeff’s homily talked to the incredible community that Prince of Peace offers. I am so incredibly blessed to have such a great community in not only one but two parish communities. 

Prince of Peace

The real reason I dove into the deep end of my faith is the Spirit Choir at Prince of Peace. I kinda joined on a whim in sixth grade, and I am so glad I trusted God on this one. From the first time I walked into that choir room, I was met with so much love and support, and that was only the beginning. Each one of them, whether they know it or not, helped me through some of the darkest and hardest moments in my life. Every time I had a hard week I knew I could walk into that choir room on Saturday and my spirit would be lifted instantly. I could have missed a week, or nine months, and they will welcome me with open arms each time (with a little bit of teasing of course).

The choir has also helped me to grow my confidence in ways I could have never imagined. When I first joined, I would only play the mass parts (the parts of the mass that don’t change week to week), and now I will sight read almost anything at the drop of the hat. All we really do is check the key, and then I will try my best. I have realized that you don’t have to be perfect, and usually each verse makes it closer to what it is actually supposed to be. I still get nervous when I play in front of people, and even more when I sing, but I am so proud of myself when I accomplish a piece.

So many in that choir are some of my biggest role models in faith and also in life. Each day they show me God’s unconditional love for each of us. The range of backgrounds and experiences is so inspiring and our faith is what is able to bring us all together; we truly are a little family.

Outside of the choir, the rest of the parish is such a welcoming and inviting community. Each time I walk in the door, I am always met with a smile and a wave from so many people who are truly glad I am a part of this parish. I have heard from so many that there is something special about Prince of Peace, and I am so glad that I feel like I have found my faith home.

St. Norbert

I have also found an incredible community and support at St. Norbert. The first week of classes, somebody mentioned a mass at 9pm in one of the residence halls, and we all decided to check it out. The minute we all walked into that room, we were met with so many incredible people who just radiated with God’s love. I felt relaxed and comfortable and it turned into my favorite part of each week.

There is a strong group of support within the Catholic Groups on campus and it is just such a relaxing feeling. I am so blessed to be able to attend such an amazing school and feel like I have found my home and second faith community.

Beauty of the Sky

On the plane ride home I will admit I wasn’t in the best mood. It had been a long week, our plane was delayed for over three hours, and I had just been trying to work on a blog explaining a really hard educational topic and was frustrated. We still had about five hours until we were going to be home and I wasn’t really having it.

The minute we took off, God had something to show me.

Within thirty seconds of takeoff, my breath was taken away. We flew right over Washington D.C. at night and it was so incredibly beautiful. Words can’t even express it honestly. At that moment, I felt God tell me to relax and trust. I am always caught up in the what if and what is happening next that I forget to live. Seeing how each little dot was a light and how much it lit up the city was incredible. I honestly have no words to describe the feeling.

Another thing that struck me is how small my problems seemed from so high up. Sure, I struggled at the conference, but I was chosen to be one of the only students there and honestly, most people struggled at least a little. I am a rising Sophomore and was in a community with faculty and staff from around the world.

Being able to see the perfect world that God created and knowing that he looked at the world and decided that each one of us needed to be included is just mind-blowing and perfect. Sometimes it is hard to see what God sees in us or how he is with us, but he is constantly fighting battles for us and his unconditional love always shines through.

Each time I decide to let go and trust God’s plan for my life, miracles happen. I have to constantly pinch myself and make sure this is truly the life I’m living, because for the first time in a long time, I feel surrounded by great friends and family and I am enjoying the roller coaster of life I am on. Each part of my jigsaw puzzle is finally clicking into place (if you know, you know).

Going back to Deacon Jeff’s homily and Hebrews 11:1, I have not seen God physically (please let me know if you have), but I see God in each little moment of my life: the good and the bad; I see him each time I walk into church, each time I see joy or pain on my friends and families face, and my views from 10,000 feet up.

Hello! My name is Cassie Nooyen and I am a freshman at St. Norbert College double majoring in Computer Science with an emphasis in Graphic Design and Mathematics. Explore my blog and learn a little bit about my adventure called life!

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