Memories of Newman - Dr. Julie Wright

Nothing is more practical than finding God,

than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends,

what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

 - Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

When I was a first year undergraduate student, my roommate Kirsten suggested that we ‘check out’ the Newman Centre on campus.  We met Fr. Tom Rosica, the Student Campus Ministers, and felt drawn in to the community almost immediately.  We started going to Mass together almost every day.  Two years later I joined the Student Campus Ministry (SCM) team and spent two years living in community with eight other students, two nuns and a priest -- not your typical ‘Residence on Campus’!  My time on the Student Campus Ministry team was an incredible gift to me during that time of my life, showing me how to invest my head, hands and heart into the service and love of God; and it continues to be a source of grace for me today.    

For a young Catholic starting out in University, I was so fortunate to have found a spiritual community that accepted and fed my academic curiosity.  From my earliest days in the community, the Newman Centre has been a place where I’ve been comfortable bringing my questions, and encountering the questions I haven’t thought of yet.  Whether over dinner with the SCM team, with visiting lecturers, or in lively debate after Mass with other Newmanites, our community has always honored the ‘wonder’ in wondering, and recognized that working through ideas is one of the ways that God calls people (and maybe especially academics) to a deeper love of His Church and His world. 

However, being an SCM didn’t allow me to stay holed up in discourse all day.  Part of working through questions about God’s working in the world involved going out into the world and getting some work done!  So we organized tutoring programmes, and pastoral visiting; we helped in soup kitchens and homeless shelters;  we hosted lectures, faith and social justice groups; we planned retreats and community social events.  Through it all, we were blessed with priests, religious, and a community of parishioners who supported and mentored us as we tried to reflect back onto the world the love and welcome of Christ that we experienced at Newman. 

Finally, I end where I began. One of greatest gifts I received from the Newman Centre community was the opportunity to experience and participate in our beautiful liturgies as a parishioner and liturgical minister.  There is something special about Mass at Newman:  our community is drawn to and surrounds the Word of God and Body of Christ; there is a spirit of loving attentiveness, of generous participation, and reverence for Christ who enters into the midst of our gathering.  The friendships that I’ve made at Newman flow from the joy of being together in the presence of Christ, and experiencing God’s love in our community.  

It has now been many, many years since I lived in community at the Newman Centre as an SCM, but Newman remains my spiritual home.  The experience of Christian community has seized my imagination -head, hands, and heart- and that has affected everything.  It is with me in my vocation to marriage and medicine.  It directs my (never-ending) studies.  It takes me to far away parts of the world.  And it always brings me back home, continually amazed with joy and gratitude for what I’ve found.

[Dr. Julie Wright works at Sickkids]

 

 

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