Prayer, Discernment, and Facing Whatever’s Next

This past summer Teresa Donnellan (COL ’16), an O’Hare fellow with America Media, wrote an article for America Magazine, Panicking with Grace: A Spirituality for Whatever’s Next – a link to the article appears below.

In the article, Donnellan interviewed three fellow Hoyas, Eileen Marino Brookhouser and Patrick Brookhouser, a newlywed couple, and Christian Verghes, a Jesuit novice. She asked them to share advice about prayer and how it helped them discern their vocations.

With the academic year underway, students from first-years to seniors have arrived on campus with a mix of excitement and trepidation, each considering their own version of the question, “what next?”

Campus Ministry caught up with Donnellan to ask her about her freshman year, how prayer can help new and returning students, and what advice she would give her freshman self.

What do you remember about your very first days at Georgetown?

I was excited to meet everyone, but I was also overwhelmed by the number of people at NSO. I remember trying to befriend everyone I met, which was an exhausting experience. As luck would have it, I met two of my best friends at Georgetown because we were all early to the book signing that took place before the Marino workshop (I know, I know, we’re nerds). In those first few days, I met a lot of people I rarely crossed paths with again and a few that became lifelong friends.

In the America article you said, “It is difficult to bring oneself to prayer when one feels lost.” What is it about prayer that gives you direction?

Prayer gives me direction because it helps me keep in mind that we exist for the greater glory of God (AMDG!). It’s all about building a relationship with God, but in the process, I can also become more attuned to who I am and who I want to be.

The Examen especially prompts people to consider how they react to the world and where God is in their daily lives, which can help students gain perspective on those hectic days in college when classes, exams, and extracurricular commitments feel like too much.

What advice would you give your freshman self? 

Honestly, I didn’t get very involved with my faith until my sophomore year of college. So, my advice would be this: Go to Mass! Even if you don’t know who you’ll sit with. Even if you have a ton of Chinese homework to do. Even if you haven’t been in a month.

Later on, in my college experience, the weekday 10:00 p.m. Mass in Copley Crypt became a haven for me. Because of its time, it serves as a good study break. And it can be spiritually replenishing. Copley Crypt (which is not as spooky as the name suggests) is a small, reverent space, and praying with your peers in that setting reminds you of the beautiful community available to you at Georgetown.

So, freshman Teresa, go to Mass! Listen to the announcements afterward. Take advantage of all that Campus Ministry offers to foster a mature spiritual life. And pray, every single day.

Since publishing the America article, Teresa accepted a position as an editorial assistant at SmartBrief, Inc. in Washington, D.C.

Panicking with Grace: A Spirituality for Whatever’s Next