The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Study: More students turning to religion

College is a period of growth for all students, and if a recent study is any indication, it seems more and more college students are embracing spiritual growth now more than ever.

According to a study from the October 2006 Issue of the Journal of College and Character titled “Inward Journeys: Forms and Patterns of College Student Spirituality,” 75 percent of incoming freshmen responding to a national survey indicated that they were “searching for meaning/purpose in life.” Eighty percent said that they were at least “somewhat interested in spirituality” and almost 50 percent said they thought they were on “a spiritual quest” and that “it was important to find ways to develop spirituality while in college.”

“I would say that students do embrace religion more, whether it is the Catholic religion, which is really the basis of St. John’s, or their own religion,” said Stephan DeBlasio, director of faith formation and liturgy in Campus Ministry at St. John’s.

The study identifies four types of college student spirituality: the faith centered seekers, who “engage in spirituality solely within the context of their own particular religious tradition,” the multi-religious seekers are “those who seek to deepen their religious spirituality through interfaith and multi-religious exploration, dialogue, and practice,” mindfulness seekers are “focused in their inner search on ways to heighten self-awareness and understanding” and wellness seekers “engage in spirituality activities in order to achieve a more holistic, healthy and integrated way of life.”

With more students seeking out religion, this has caused an increase in participation in religion-related activities and groups. DeBlasio attributes this growth to the mission of St. John’s becoming much clearer to students, as well as faculty, over the past couple of years.

“Another way students take a look at religion and think about it is through the service that they do for others and there certainly is a high amount of students that do service,” DeBlasio said.

One such event is the annual “Night of Solidarity with the Homeless,” which was held for the second time Monday night. The Night of Solidarity, co-sponsored by the Students for Life, Habitat for Humanity and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, is an event in which students spend a night sleeping on the Great Lawn outside of St. Thomas More Church in order to show support and compassion for New York City’s homeless.

Another display of St. John’s students embracing their faith is the recent celebration of the Jewish festival Sukkot on the Great Lawn, in which a ceremonial hut called a sukkah was constructed and remained for the week-long holiday. The Jewish Students Association brought the Sukkot celebration to St. John’s for the first time this year.

DeBlasio suggested that for students who do not embrace their faith and the activities associated with it, the reason may be a lack of time.

“I think students are very receptive to [getting involved in religious activities and thinking about religion] but I think they are just very busy and they don’t often discover it,” DeBlasio said.

“I think time is a big thing,” said junior Jacob Piskorski. “Also, although we have the resources, we just have to find a better way to get them so a lot of kids will want to come out.”

“It’s not that we [don’t have time for religion],” DeBlasio clarifies, “we don’t make it because we don’t understand it. But, I think once people taste a little bit of that, a little bit of reflection, a little bit of nurturing your faith, it’s something that they would want to be a part of their lives.”

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