Many students in the Pastoral Counseling programs were attracted to Loyola specifically because they are encouraged – and even guided in how – to approach counseling through the lens of their faith. I am one such student. My journey began in the MA program after several people had asked me to be their spiritual director. Having no qualifications to do that, my answer to them was no. However, I felt God asking me to become qualified. I am a consecrated virgin in the Catholic Church and I understood my new calling as a way in which to reach out to others considering their own vocation. What I realized very early on was that my new calling is really a way in which to live out my own vocation. I switched over to the MS program at the end of my first semester, anxious to become a licensed clinical professional counselor…a career I would have never guessed I’d be in.
I am a Christian. I believe God is love and Jesus is God. Therefore, Jesus also is love. When I took my vows in the Order of Consecrated Virgins, I became a “bride of Christ,” as the rite declares. As such, I believe I must also be love. Before starting at Loyola, I thought I was doing pretty well at being love. I was very accepting and respectful of others – of their faith traditions, sexual orientation, ethnicity, personal stories. Or so I thought. Classes like Contemporary Religious Perspectives, Psychopathology, and Diversity Issues in Counseling opened my eyes to the many ways in which my heart had been closed. I began to see how many limits I had been trying to place on my limitless God and I was given tools to break apart that box I was trying so hard to fit Him in.
I am constantly amazed at how other people understand God. In this program I have encountered Buddhists, Muslims, Baha’i, Orthodox Jews, Hindus, Protestants, and Seventh Day Adventists. I have been blessed to hear them share the God they know so well. I see their God and my God are not as far removed from one another as I once thought. God, as I know Him, looks much different than He did the day I married Him. He is more beautiful and more loving than I gave Him credit for. And the more I meet Him through the program, I am falling in love with Him all over again.