Hi University of Dallas, I’m Rachel Gernhardt. I am a sophomore politics and classics major and a proud 2018 Fromer. Additionally, I am a practicing Confessional Lutheran studying at this Catholic university for independent thinkers.
At UD, I have been open about my faith with my classmates and friends. I have talked to them for hours about the similarities and differences between our doctrines and traditions. I love this school because of the people and the classical education that strengthens the soul of each student. UD is beautiful place that helps people develop and practice their faith.
However, in many of my conversations, I have run into fellow students who are so passionate about their Catholic faith that it is hard for them to engage in dialogue with someone who has different beliefs.
During these conversations, rather than trying to understand my beliefs, some try to convert me to Roman Catholicism or suggest that I would be better off as a Roman Catholic. While I appreciate and truly admire these people in their love for their faith and their willingness to share it with me, I often find these discussions to be inappropriately handled.
All young students, myself included, wrestle with trying to find the truth through both faith and reason. Conversations often consist of dogmatic assertions regarding the Catholic Church instead of a real dialogue in which both can learn from one another. Frequently, I am pressured to agree with them arbitrarily, rather than being reasoned with and treated with respect.
My fellow students should not be less passionately or faithfully Catholic, but I do posit that, rather than rushing to attempt to convert their peers, they ought to consider why one, as a baptized Lutheran earnestly seeking the truth, could disagree with Roman Catholic dogma, perspectives or positions about faith.
I came to UD because I love the community in which students are challenged to study, think for themselves and learn about their faith and the Western intellectual tradition. Overall, students here avail themselves of this nurturing environment.
Respectfully, students who want to spread the truth they see in the Roman Catholic faith would benefit from taking the time to consider what others think, offering their thoughts and beliefs and then engaging in the search for truth with their peers, as equals.
I encourage all of my classmates, regardless of their faith or background, to pursue their faith with earnestness and to discover and believe in the truth, and not to subscribe to positions and dogmas merely for the sake of conformity.
I encourage the UD student body to participate in the sentiment of being the “Catholic University for Independent Thinkers” by approaching whomever they encounter with humility and honesty.
This can only be done by looking through one another’s eyes. Humility is one of the most essential aspects of discussion, especially at a university such as our own. If we put aside our difference and dialogue with each other as individuals who possess the capacity to make each other better through honest conversation, then there is no topic that cannot be investigated to its fullest extent.
Not all opinions equally participate in the truth; if you desire to know the truth, you must be willing to consider ideas for what they are and encourage discussion with those you disagree, searching for the core of truth and promoting the search for wisdom within the UD community as a whole.