OPINION: Religious activities provide community for St. Edward’s students, inclusivity prioritized by religious organizations


Milo Cortese / Hilltop Views

Members of the St. Edward’s community worship during mass. Religious organizations on campus aim to be inclusive.

Religion can be a very beneficial part of someone’s life, and it can also be something that creates a divide. While St. Edward’s is a Catholic university, this affiliation is often something I forget about. It’s hard to remember that St. Edward’s upholds “Holy Cross values” when they do a good job of giving students the ability to choose whether or not they want to engage in the Catholic element of the university. 

St. Edward’s is a part of the Holy Cross Institute, which seeks to unite Holy Cross professors and teachers through leadership training. Their website describes this as creating an environment that promotes “spiritual development, research, scholarship and transformative educational opportunities for students.”

St. Edward’s is inclusive of multiple religious backgrounds, as the chapel seeks to represent multiple denominations. They obviously lean more towards the Catholic faith, having events related to observances like Lent and Adoration, but they still seek to represent those of many different religions. For example, there is a Muslim Student’s Association, which engages with Muslim students and practices traditions such as Ramadan

The Faith and Community section of the website further emphasizes this by stating: “We’re the sort of community where the Muslim Student Association and Hillel Toppers come together for an Eid Al Adha–Yom Kippur dinner, and nonreligious students join classmates of all faiths in celebrating human kindness.”

I love that St. Edward’s has an extensive amount of events and opportunities for students to engage spiritually with their religious community, and that there is no pressure or expectation to attend these events. For example, the prayer jar event was a great place for students to focus on how they want to improve their faith life this year and how we can lift each other up in doing that. There are also retreats offered periodically, which gives students an even greater opportunity to improve their faith life through immersive experiences. 

The religious community at St. Edward’s has really helped me engage spiritually with other students, as well as gain a deeper commitment to my faith. This is something that has always been important to me, but the university really gave me a community to immerse myself in. I like that I can be associated with such a diverse community, and I can interact with so many different types of people. I can find a religious community, which is something I never really had much of before, but I can also spend time with people that I can focus on other common interests with. 

Personally, I have experienced a lot of negative reactions for expressing my religious beliefs in a place like Austin. St. Edward’s has given me a space to find like-minded people and have a community to talk about that subject with. I love the accepting environment that St. Edward’s provides and their commitment to inclusivity.