Assignment 2: New Place

 

For this assignment, I found it a little difficult to find a place I hadn’t been before. I have had my car at school since my freshman year, and because of this I have pretty much hit all of the traditional Williamsburg places by now— Yankee Candle, Five Forks, and the Outlets are all favorites. However, the place I chose, although very new to me, has been a part of a certain percentage of the student body’s weekly routine. For this assignment, I went to the Catholic Campus Ministry.

Growing up, I was raised Catholic. I’ve been to various different churches; a mega church while visiting a friend, I’ve been to small chapels with my family, and then of course St. Anthony’s, the church my family used to go to at home. However, before this assignment I had never been to something like the Catholic Campus Ministry. The church I used to attend is pretty large and therefore the hymns are played through large speakers, the priest has to use a microphone when he speaks to the crowd, and my Sunday school classes took place in another large building all together. Also a distinct aspect of St. Anthony’s is the large Hispanic population in attendance, therefore most of the masses I would attend were in Spanish.

Catholic Campus Ministry was a very different experience. There weren’t a bunch of families like I am used to seeing around, due to the fact it is mostly William and Mary students and older couples, and the mass itself was very short, most likely because it was a Wednesday evening.  In addition to the people, another interesting difference was the look of the chapel. It was obviously a pretty old building, and there were three sides in which people could sit around the altar. I am also used to a more traditional altar with a crucifix in the back, however this one had the image of the Virgin Mary.

I believed that I would feel uncomfortable at the Catholic Campus Ministry because although I was raised Catholic, I haven’t been in a church for several years and personally do not prescribe to Catholic beliefs. I knew that going to mass would definitely take me out of my element. What set this experience a part from others is that I was uncomfortable even though other students like myself surrounded me.  I didn’t know the prayers, didn’t know when to stand, sit or kneel and just felt like a fish out of water.

It’s funny that someone can feel so out of place where others feel so comfortable because it is their place of worship. It makes me wonder if I were to attend the church I used to at my home in Northern Virginia, if I would still feel displaced. I feel that even though I wouldn’t personally with many of the things said, if the usual familiar faces surrounded me, would it matter?

It’s an interesting thing about comfort—when I first came to school in Williamsburg I wasn’t comfortable anywhere in this town. I had to get used to my dorm room, my friends, get familiar with the buildings, and Swem Library. Now, I have my own favorite spots on and off campus, especially the Daily Grind.  And in the future, when I leave Williamsburg and get a job somewhere, I’m going to have to find new places of comfort.  Maybe instead of a coffee shop I’ll find a favorite restaurant to have lunch at, or maybe my favorite place will be my third floor, one-bedroom walk up.  Familiarity comes and goes, maybe after this I won’t find Catholic Campus Ministry so uncomfortable.


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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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