"Being a Catholic seems so cool!"
I've got to admit - these were not words I ever expected to hear from my new, non-Catholic friend at uni.
Before starting university, I was most nervous about how I would practice my faith 'on my own' - without the support of my family and parish back home. I knew from the start that I would never hide my faith, but at the same time was worried about how people would react.
Looking back a year later, I have absolutely no idea why I was so nervous! During my first year, I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities to strengthen my faith and, through my university's Catholic Society and Christian Union, I have made so many wonderful friends who have similar morals to myself and who are able to encourage me in my faith.
Additionally, events such as the CaSSU (Catholic Societies of Southern Universities) Autumn retreat, Flame, Leeds Youth 2000, Celebrate, and many others have helped me grow my faith and make many Catholic friends in the process.
When I have been away on retreat, I was always open with the girls I lived with about where I had been for the weekend. They would always ask me questions and were always eager to hear about what I'd been up to. My post-retreat faith 'buzz' really opened me up to their questions, and it was great that they showed such an interest. This definitely made it a lot easier to be open about my faith.
With my first year at university over, I realise that there has never been a moment when I felt that I was practicing my faith 'on my own'. The friendships I have made this year with both Catholics and non-Catholics alike have made me more confident in my faith and more open to sharing it with others.
So yes... Being a Catholic is cool!