July 3, 2018
As a resident and active parishioner of the JPII Newman Center, I have seen my faith extend to so many different parts of my life. I have become a better student, a better employee, and a better person overall thanks to the resources provided by the Newman Center. One aspect that I have been very surprised to see develop is my military life. As a member of the Nebraska Army National Guard, I have been afforded the opportunity to serve my country and give myself to a greater cause monthly. Having the pleasure of living at the Newman Center, I have not only seen my faith apply immensely to my work in the Guard, but it has also transformed me into a better soldier.
A Place of Worship
One of the ways that the Newman Center has helped me as a soldier is by providing a place for worship. One of the best ways to prepare for a day of military duty is morning prayer. On any typical day of drilling, my fellow soldiers and I usually must hit the ground running early in the day because there is a lot to do. Taking time to put my mind on God is a great way to get ready for what’s to come. There is no better place for morning prayer than in the presence of the Eucharist and the Crucifix, which are both provided in the Oratory at the Newman Center. Having such convenient access to a mere perfect site for worship has definitely been a blessing for my work as a Guardsman.
Conferences and Talks
Another one of the ways that the Newman Center has helped me as a soldier is by providing access to Catholic speakers and talks. The best conferences that I have been able to attend have been the conferences operated by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). Thanks to the Newman Center, I was able to be present for the FOCUS Conferences SEEK2015, SEEK2017, and SLS2018. These conferences grant college students the chance to hear from countless speakers on living out our Catholic faith in the real world. One session that I attended during SEEK2017 hosted real-life veterans who talked about their experiences serving in the military as Christians. One important topic that was brought up was about how to cope with the cursing, vanity, and impurity that is typically associated with the military environment.
While this can bring a feeling of isolation as a practicing Catholic (which I have felt on numerous occasions), the advice given by the speakers was to treat fellow soldiers as children of God. As Catholics, we are taught never to judge others because we are all sinners. This segment of wisdom alone has helped me TREMENDOUSLY as a faithful soldier. There have always been occasions in which fellow soldiers will participate in impure and provocative speech and activities. This may bring discomfort at first, but by remembering that we are all sons and daughters of God, I find it much easier to maintain holiness, interact with my comrades while on duty, and act freely as a serviceman.
Community and Support
One of the final ways that the Newman Center has helped as a soldier is by gathering a community of other Catholic soldiers. Through the Newman Center community, I have become acquainted with ROTC cadets, active service members, and part-time service members who all share the Catholic faith. By having the support of others who understand the military lifestyle, I have been able to be so much more confident in maintaining my faith as a soldier. By simply knowing that there are people experiencing the same spiritual challenges as me, it fills me with so much more confidence that it is POSSIBLE to do so.
Daniel J. Krawczyk | Senior, UNO & Parishioner, St. John Paul II Newman Center