Bishop Braxton: In Seeking Support

In Seeking Support

Having graduated from Georgetown University a couple of weeks ago, I noted that yet again, I was entering into another transition period that brought about all too familiar feelings of anxiety, stress, and concern. My transition from high school to Georgetown was bumpy, and as Commencement got closer I feared that I would experience something similar after leaving Georgetown, a place that I was very happy to call home.

In the summer of 2011, I left Los Angeles and everything that was familiar to me to start my undergraduate career at Georgetown. Being the first one in my family to attend college, and also the first one to leave home in such a capacity, I felt an unwavering anxiety and guilt for leaving home. When I arrived to the Hilltop, I felt like the world I knew had been flipped upside down. I was, and still am, very grateful to have had the opportunity to engage with Georgetown. It has provided me countless opportunities for personal, academic, and spiritual growth, but it has also been a space that made me consistently hyper aware of my racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic identities and their subsequent interactions with everything I did at Georgetown. In very little time, I realized that my public school background hadn’t prepared me for Georgetown academics; and as a freshman with little mentorship support from upper-class peers and the administration, I felt an increasing concern that a lack of guidance and preparation would prevent me from doing well at Georgetown.


Students at Hospitality Sunday after Mass

Amongst all this uncertainty, the one piece of familiarity that constantly brought me tranquility was my Catholic faith– in particular Sunday mass. Sunday mass reminded me that the feelings of stress, anxiety, and concern I was experiencing throughout the week weren’t coming from God; instead God was inviting me to feel a hope, excitement, and perseverance. Re-focusing my energy on that invitation propelled me to navigate my high school-to-college transition period with enthusiasm and a renewed courage. Weekly mass, campus ministry sponsored retreats, daily mass in Copley Crypt, the Chaplains in Residence program, and my time as an ESCAPE leader prompted me to listen and embrace the feeling that the plan that God had made for me was far better, greater, and more exciting than anything I could have put together myself.

This realization and these new experiences gave me the energy to keep going despite the consistent trials I felt on campus, to holistically engage with Georgetown, and dive wholeheartedly into every moment I was granted on Hilltop. My faith became a hand to hold onto on a journey that I felt I was leading blindly.

While my faith was foundation during my time at Georgetown, I couldn’t help but feel like a guest sometimes at the various services and programs. Mass was different at home in Los Angeles: it was in Spanish, the songs and the type of music were distinct, and the references in the homily and the subsequent discussions referenced communities and issues that I was able to identify with more closely. As Spanish and bilingual masses began to increase in frequency and popularity on the Hilltop, I noticed that I grew a stronger attachment, engagement, and a greater sense of belonging to what had become a cornerstone of support for me during my time at Georgetown.

Reflecting on Bishop Braxton’s pastoral letter, it is critical to create inclusive spaces everywhere in the Catholic faith. According to the Catholic faith, all members of the human family are children or God. In our celebration and in our worship, the diversity of our beautiful and human family should be represented. Unique among many universities, Georgetown allows for faith of any tradition to be a powerful force of support for members of the Georgetown community. Georgetown, in providing a more complete sense of representation of the human family, not only acknowledges that everyone has a place in our faith but also provides a concrete gateway for all people to engage with God in the many Catholic traditions of worship and spiritual growth.

Now, as a recent graduate, I understand that I will be undergoing another transition period. Similar to my previous experience, I’ve turned to my faith for stability and support during a time where again I find myself blindfolded. Starting the next chapter requires me to leave a place that has become a home in so many respects. However, as I leave Georgetown I leave with great hope knowing that it has become more inclusive during my four years on the Hilltop and I have confidence that engagement with the many underrepresented communities that compose our human family will allow the church to be able to celebrate with all our sisters and brothers.


Nancy Hinojos, SFS’15