Just a year ago before joining Fides, I was, as people would call it, a Sunday Catholic. After confirmation, I was barely in church. I was contented with fulfilling my basic obligations as a Catholic, going for weekend mass, obligation masses, and for confession twice a year. I was also leading a very dichotomous life. The way I behaved around my friends was very different from the way I behaved in Church. I was rowdy and uncouth among my friends so I could be “cool” or try to fit in, while in Church I was the holy and prayerful boy. I lived life as if church and life were completely separate entities. I rarely stopped to ponder about how God was present in my life or how he was carrying me through my daily struggles. However, funny enough there was always this desire very very deep in my heart that I wanted to “fix” the spiritual aspect of my life.
After serving my time in national service, Father Jude approached me during my holidays and asked me to join FIDES, the Catholic community in SMU. At first, I was a little apprehensive, but something told me that that could very well be the start of me satisfying this deep desire to grow closer to this God that seem pretty distant at that time. So before university started, I made a commitment to give it a try and take this leap of faith. I had never been in a community before, let alone one this big.
So my FIDES journey started with a welcome session and I went for the freshmen orientation retreat & mid-term retreat. I made a commitment to attend the weekly campus masses, sessions, praise and worship and went for community fellowship events. Slowly, I could feel God working through me and softening my heart, making me more aware of how He has been working in my life. I started to rely less on my own abilities and learned to turn to him in my struggles.
Being in FIDES and having surrounded myself with people who so fervently want to chase this same God with me has been very edifying. It stirs my faith especially when times get tough. The kingdom friendships that I have formed, the meaningful and heartfelt conversations with community members, and the constant reminders that God is always with me, allowed me to get through my first year in SMU without succumbing to the voices in the secular world that try to shift my focus away from God. I also no longer placed my identity on how well-liked I was, or how well I fit in, for my identity is no longer based on what the world thought of me, but who God said I was.
FIDES became my safe haven, a place where I could be vulnerable and let my guard down and I am really thankful to have been blessed with the gift of community in my University. Although community living has its challenges at times, we have nothing to fear, for the Lord will always guide His sheep.
My brothers and sisters, I invite you to take this leap of faith and say this ‘Yes’ to God and allow yourself to experience his immense love for you, for he has great plans for you, plans for you to prosper. God Bless everyone!
Leon Sim, SMU FIDES