Professor Joshua Galligan
September 27, 2018
Four Walls and a Roof
What is identity? To me, identity is what makes people unique from other people due to their beliefs and customs. There are many places that have shaped my identity. A few of those places would be the Philippines, Virginia Beach, a school, a friend’s house, or even a park I would go to with friends late at night to just talk, and many other little “places.” These places have given me a blueprint for who I am. They have led me to figure out the one place that has truly shaped my identity. In my life, the memories I will always cherish are the ones I have with my best friends and of my church. That “place” that has truly shaped my identity would be the Catholic church.
The Catholic church is very significant to me and my life. I didn’t always think that though. I was raised Catholic by my parents. Like most Catholic children, I did not like going to mass or any church related event. I would only go because my parents forced me to go with them. I would always get out of the car for mass Sunday mornings and just think about leaving. The church to me was just some building that wasted my time whenever I was there. Maybe I thought like this because I was too young and not as mature as I am now. I didn’t even realize the Church was that place where I would find my identity until my Sophomore year of high school. The way I feel about the Church now compared to then is completely different. The church is the one place I can go to and just let everything go, the stress, problems, and other obstacles in my life. More specifically, my home parish in Virginia Beach, Church of the Ascension, has been that place for me. I have been going to that church for 14 years and counting. The Catholic church has taught me many things. Through the bible, youth ministers, priests, and many other people I have come across because of the church, I have learned so much. The things I have learned through the Church has helped me in my life and in shaping my identity.
How exactly has the Catholic church shaped my identity though? As I transition to my new life in college, I know it can be difficult to maintain the same lifestyle, faith and religion wise. I have met the bestest of friends I could ever ask for through the church. Emily and Sarah are these people and they have significantly influenced my identity. I met them through youth group at church. At first, we were all just good friends but as time went on, we all became close. We all love our faith, God, and each other. They keep me accountable, make me happy, and make me grow closer to God because I know the holy spirit is burning inside of them. Being Catholic has shaped my identity because I live my life for God and do everything for him. My beliefs are from what the Catholic church has taught me and what God wants me to do, which is to not commit sin. I follow everything the Catholic church believes in because I know God is real and will always be there for me. The reason I know this is through prayer. I pray for a lot of things and God seems to hear me and answer those prayers. When my grandmother was in the hospital, all I did was pray. After weeks of her being in the hospital, she was better, healthy, and was able to come home. That day made all questions I had on my faith and God go away. Another way the Catholic church has shaped my identity is through all of the retreats and conferences it has allowed me to attend. These retreats and conferences are events for people who want to have fun, grow in their faith, and meet many people. At these retreats and conferences, I learn so much about God, the Catholic faith, and I grow a lot in my faith and prayer life. The specific conference when I figured out my identity was the Steubenville Conference I attended in Atlanta 2 summers ago. Most specifically during Adoration. Adoration is when the priest walks around the giant room filled with Catholics with the Monstrance or what Catholics know it as, Jesus Christ. During this moment, I talked to God and just bursted out in tears as I didnt know what was happening but just cried and listened to what God was telling me. The moment was surreal and is hard to describe. I knew at that moment that I am living for God and my faith is the most important thing in my life and will always be. The Catholic church to me is not just some building, a place, four walls and a roof, it’s a physical location but also symbolises so much more for me. It’s a place I can be myself, a place that has brought the best people in my life, a place that has brought many memories for me, and a place that has brought me to the realization of my identity.
The reading “Why Place Matters” by Wilfred McClay allows me to better understand my own identity and connect with my “place”, the Catholic church. McCay says our place is not only a physical location, but also “the achievement of a stable and mature personal identity within a coherent social order.” I believe in other words what McCay is trying to say here is that your sense of place should allow you to be yourself and express your identity through society. Considering my place, the Catholic church and God allows me to express myself and identity however I want to. The reading also states “we stand powerfully in need of such stable and coherent places in our lives-to ground us and orient us.” In my case, the Catholic church being that place for me, has been that coherent place that grounds and orients my identity and has allowed me to be who I am today. McCay tells us how significant a place is for our lives and how that place shapes our identity. The Catholic church and my place with God has definitely done that for me.
The Catholic church is the place that has most influenced me and shaped my identity. It has brought most of the people I know today into my life and has created amazing opportunities for me with God. The church has taught me many things and has provided me with the beliefs I follow in life. I live my life for God and do try my best to do everything he wants me to do. The Catholic church has shaped my identity through the people I have met, retreats and conferences I have attended, and because I live for what God calls me to do. The Catholic church will forever be the reason I am who I am today.
McClay, Wilfred. “Why Place Matters” Space and Place Focused Inquiry I and II