IBAÑEZ: The nudge to evangelize on a college campus

November 9, 2021

Several weeks ago, I received a nudge from Jesus that I didn’t know I needed. That nudge came in the form of the Evangelization Training Conference (ETC) retreat offered to Houston-area Catholic college students from Sept. 10 to 12.
The retreat, sponsored by the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry, was a chance to gather with other Catholic student leaders from other local universities.
As a small group leader at the University of Houston Newman Center, I try to walk with my group so we can all find Christ together. Of course, we find Him in the Sacraments and our community, but sometimes it is difficult to find Jesus outside the Catholic Center walls, especially at a secular university. It’s easy to compartmentalize faith life to only our friends at the Newman. However, we are called to so much more than that. Jesus calls all of us to bring others back to Him through evangelization and friendship.
The ETC was an intensive crash course on how to do just that. We talked about what it means to evangelize and the importance of evangelizing on campus.
The term “evangelization” roughly means “good-news-ization.” If this good news has blessed and changed my entire life for the better, I should share it! Fantastic speakers came and told us personal experiences of friendships that shaped their lives.
We learned techniques to draw people into the richness of our faith, and we practiced telling our story of how God has transformed our lives. We talked about specific saints and their tips about becoming effective disciples, and we even discussed different approaches to take with people depending on where they are in their walk with God.
I had two favorite aspects of the retreat.
First, the community filled with Christ-centered friendships helped encourage me to realize that I am not alone in my walk toward heaven. We laughed, joked and shared deeply. It’s so wonderful to have friends you know you can count on.
But more importantly, we had time for prayer, which was incredibly fruitful. The entire retreat helped cultivate the energy and love we all have for Jesus, and it showed us how we can use that to bring more souls to Jesus.
The nudge from Jesus that I saw in prayer was about comfort. I think I was too comfortable with being comfortable. Staying quiet and not talking about my faith and my relationship with God (in classes, with classmates, and even with my small group) is always going to be easier, but I need to learn to be okay with being uncomfortable.
Evangelizing can be uncomfortable and scary, but this retreat helped me see that it is more attainable and doable than I thought. The retreat helped renew and strengthen my conviction for sharing my faith, and it highlighted the desperate need the world has for disciples. †

Clau Ibañez is a junior at the University of Houston who is majoring in public relations. She has been involved with the Catholic Newman Center on Campus for three years.