This is Leigh Ramsey, a Columbia sophomore from North Carolina studying Earth and Environmental Engineering. Along with fellow
sophomore John Russell, a St. Louis native studying History and Linguistics, Leigh serves as the co-president of Columbia Catholic Ministry. This is her story.
Briefly, what did your faith life look like growing up?
I was blessed to live in a home that emphasized Catholicism, and my parents are great role models of faith. We went to church every Sunday as a family, and every night before bed we would all pray together. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 8th grade, so most of my childhood centered on the Church. I attended a public high school, but I maintained strong ties to my faith and the relationships I formed in the Catholic community.
Did you have any preconceived notions of what faith life would look like in college?
When I was preparing for college, my Dad emphasized that my faith would be challenged, and that he wanted me to make sure I stayed grounded in my faith despite these challenges. This resonated with me, and it helped me to prioritize my faith as I was preparing for school. Before coming to college, I imagined myself going to Mass weekly, joining a Bible Study, and possibly finding other ways to be involved in the Catholic ministry. My notion going into college was a continuance of my faith, as I entered a new chapter in my life that would be grounded in my roots established at home.
Describe what role Columbia Catholic Ministry plays in your life currently, and any ways in which
that aligns with or deviates from your expectations.
Columbia Catholic Ministry plays a major part in my life at college. I’ve been able to get involved through my role on the board as co-president, Bible study, retreats, weekly Family Dinners, and other events. CCM has far surpassed my expectations of what a Catholic ministry in college would look like. There is an amazing community of students and FOCUS missionaries that has become a second family to me. When I go to the Merton Center for Holy Hour, I feel like I’m going to my home away from home. I’ve been able to form incredible, faith-based relationships with people in the ministry that challenge me to grow spiritually and desire to see me grow as a person.
How do you expect your ministry experience to affect your life after college?
During my time at Columbia, my faith has grown to a much deeper level, and this growth will carry me
beyond college. I know that I want to continue my faith journey by staying involved in a Catholic community wherever I go, and CCM has equipped me with the tools to continue growing with my faith outside of the ministry. Also, the friendships I’ve formed in CCM are relationships I want to maintain beyond campus because of how influential they have been.
What can students find in a Catholic ministry that they can’t elsewhere in the college experience?
With all the challenges that come with living on your own for the first time, the college experience can be a very alienating one. A Catholic ministry on campus, however, provides a community of people that becomes a second family. There is a genuine desire to know and love the people you meet at the ministry – the people in CCM welcome you with open arms and are the ultimate support group. I know that when I’m struggling with something, I have them to turn to for guidance. There is nowhere else on a college campus where you can find such deep connection between students and a community based on genuine love.
Leigh’s experience is not typical for a college student today. She came to Columbia with a firm foundation of faith and an awareness of how it may soon be tested. She’ll leave Columbia having been as involved in campus religious life as one can get, and in command of the tools necessary to continue her faith journey on her own.
If Leigh’s story resonates with you, and if you wish to create more stories like hers, please consider offering a gift to Columbia Catholic Ministry. Your contribution will support our programming, outreach efforts, and spiritual resources that guide and comfort students at a critical juncture in their life. With your help, together we can make a bigger second family and a stronger home away from home for all Columbia students.
Director, Columbia Catholic Ministry