Student Experiences Heart of Christ through Catholic Campus Ministry

 

- A first person story by UCF Student Vanessa Carrillo

I knew in my heart at the end of each day looking in the mirror, there was something more I wanted that I never could name. It didn’t take long for me to look towards the only hope I knew at the time that seemed to have what I needed: I looked to the media. I followed the reality shows on TV, listened to the latest songs about the next high off drugs, sip of alcohol, or getting together for another intimate night with a new partner. I was sure these would be the moments that would finally fill that void I felt.

As I came to UCF as a freshman, this was still all I knew, and my plan was to continue this search for fulfillment especially with this new freedom from being in college. I found myself with even emptier moments of loneliness, dissatisfaction, and sadness the more I tried to fill my void with more worldly pleasures. I knew I wasn’t satisfied! Since I have been going to Catholic Sunday Mass my whole life, I did make a promise to myself, that I would not stop going in college. I found out about the Catholic Campus Ministry at UCF, and my plan was only to participate in the celebration of Sunday Mass, but one event happened to catch my eye. Their Tuesday mass and FREE meal, again I repeat, FREE meal! Being a freshman who lived in a dorm, with no kitchen or meal plan, this was a very attractive offer. One Tuesday while I was at Mass and meal, I was invited to come to their Fall Retreat 2011. It sounded like a nice time away for a weekend. I did not expect much from it other than what seemed like a vacation.

At this Fall Retreat, the theme happened to be “Are You Satisfied?”and it was the big question asked throughout the whole weekend. The retreat probed me to examine my heart and my life. The quote that I’ll never forget from one of the speakers was, “we have a Jesus shaped hole in our hearts, that only He can fill,” which was based off St. Augustine’s quote, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O Lord.” I knew these young Catholics who were on the retreat, had something I wanted. They had a sense of authentic fulfillment and true everlasting joy. It was repeated throughout the retreat that finite pleasures will never fill us where only the infinite God can. I knew this was a message for me from God. Then the defining moment when my heart was changed was during the Eucharistic Adoration one night on the retreat, where I encountered Jesus and heard His voice for the first time in my life. I knew I had found the Messiah, the everlasting fountain of joy and fulfillment.  CCM Logo Black

When I returned to UCF after the retreat, I began my journey towards God, giving Him a chance to make something new of the life I had been living. Like a heart transplant, little by little, the Lord truly gave me a new heart and is still transforming me into His masterpiece as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Finally, I can say I am truly satisfied. CCM welcomed me as I was, walked with me as I started to ask the bigger questions in life, provided me with the Sacraments for my continued encounter with Jesus, and also a sense of home away from home. I am so grateful for CCM, God has used this ministry as His instrument to reach my own heart. Now I serve as student president for CCM, three years later, and I can still say my heart is full and in awe of the work God still does for so many hearts searching for the more than this world offers us.

 

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