As soon as Easter Break rolled around, students packed their bags and finalized traveling arrangements, grateful for a chance to rest from the busy and often demanding nature of their studies. After a long march of Lenten discipline, too, many were eagerly looking forward to celebrating the Paschal Triduum with family and friends.
Alison Welton, class of 2016, was especially looking forward to the celebration of Easter, because this was the moment in which she would be received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Over the years, Thomas More College has witnessed a number of students enter the Church, many influenced by the College’s dedication to the pursuit of truth in light of the Gospel. The dissatisfaction of many young people today with the apathy and purposelessness of the surrounding culture spurs them on to ask the most fundamental questions: who am I? what is truth? who is God? The College joyfully proclaims that the answer to the human desire for truth is found in the person of Jesus Christ.
This joyful proclamation is infectious: it cannot be contained. The person who has found truth—perhaps by unlooked-for paths—cannot help but share it. This is especially the case with the wide array of energetic, passionate, hope-filled young people that are pursuing truth at Thomas More College. They are a motley bunch, to be sure. Some have tattoos. Many have scapulars—that wonderful gift from Our Lady. All of them, having journeyed to Thomas More College by whatever path, are bound by a common love and thirst for the truth that gives true freedom.
Alison—her Confirmation name is Clare—had already read a good deal about Catholic belief and practice, such as George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic, as well as the works of G.K. Chesterton and J.R.R. Tolkien. Although she had already made the decision to enter the Church, she discovered that the lively embodiment of Catholic culture found at the College gave her a new window into understanding what the Catholic Faith is all about.
“I knew it was going to be the life I lived, but being at Thomas More College, with the people, in the classes, at Mass, being shown Catholicism in such richness, seeing it being lived out in people’s lives, is stuff you don’t find in books,” she said.
During her first semester at Thomas More College, Clare continued instruction in the Faith at the local parish of St. Patrick’s. When Easter break rolled around, she then joined thirty-one other RCIA candidates at the Vigil Mass at St. Isidore’s Parish in Kansas. She had been emotional during the few days leading up to the Easter liturgy but on the day itself, time seemed to go by at a different pace. She got up to receive the Eucharist for the first time with a smile on her face. Before she knew it, she was back in the pew kneeling next to her uncle, a recent convert who is also her sponsor into the Church.
“Scapulars and Tattoos” not only aptly captures the variety of the student body at Thomas More College. It encompasses all people on their path to the Church and growth in their faith, the whole colorful pageant of Pilgrims making their way towards the Heavenly Jerusalem. Chesterton captured the pursuit of Divine truth best in the following poem…
AFTER one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.
The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.
The College would like to offer its grateful thanksgiving for the reception of Alison and all other candidates—including two alumni from the class of 2012—into the one fold of the Catholic Church this Easter 2013.