About Impact

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Impact Stories: Colleen's Baptism

Photo by Leanna Vite - www.leannavite.com
This weekend our SMiCpact family had the chance to gather and celebrate the baptism of one of our students, Colleen Donohue. It has been such a huge honor to watch Colleen learn and grow this last year. I asked her to share a little bit of her story with you. Colleen is a junior at St. Mary's College studying Communication Disorders.

Like most students who go to college, it was the first time I was really on my own. However, it took me until my junior year to realize that I wanted to commit myself completely to Christ, and this is why I have decided, on my own accord, to get baptized (this Sunday!).  

I did not grow up with a strong faith, so when I came to college, it was the first time that I was responsible for directing my faith. My family was not committed about going to church or having Jesus be the center of our lives. My mom was raised Catholic and therefore I was Catholic for the first six years of my life.  When my mom got remarried to my stepfather, whom was Lutheran, our family joined his church. My mother was very avid about going to church when we were younger, but my stepfather ridiculed her and poked fun at her faith. I remember my mother, younger brother, and I coming home from church and my stepfather teasing us when we got home saying that we were “goodie two shoes”. It felt degrading and made me feel ashamed of wanting Jesus in my life. After years of his comments, my mom, my brother Ryan, and I stopped going to church. I felt isolated and lost for a long time.

When I came to Saint Mary’s, the community and faith was welcoming and powerful. Freshman year, I tried to find a place where I fit in, like most people. I wasn’t Catholic, but I didn’t consider myself Lutheran. I joined the campus Bible study and attended Catholic mass, but I never felt at home. I continued to stay strong to my morals, even though many of my friends did things I was uncomfortable with. I decided to become a Resident Advisor and join a group of girls who shared many of the beliefs that I did. I was lucky enough to be placed in the same dorm as Allison Zandarski. Till this day, I cannot thank her enough for how much she influenced me that year. I went with her one Sunday to Granger Community Church.  I have never been touched so deeply by a service as I was that day. I honestly believe it changed my life.  I remember vividly when I saw the baptisms outside of GCC and knew that one day I was going to do that, but I knew I wasn’t ready yet.
Actually, about a month later, I pushed in the opposite direction, further away from God.  Last Easter, my stepfather sat all five of my siblings, my mother, and myself down and told us that he messed up and that he had been cheating on my mom for about a year. I couldn’t rationalize the feelings that I felt, but I know I didn’t turn to God for help; I rebelled against Him in anger and frustration. I struggled with trust and forgiveness, but I realized that if I could forgive my abusive, drug addict, biological father, that I could and would forgive my stepfather, my Real father, the man who raised me and loved me. God made me realize that it wasn’t the person I was angry with, but the actions that they committed. He carried me when I was broken and showed me that I was capable of forgiveness and that the only person I needed to put trust in was Him.

After that realization, my pursuit of Christ has basically become an obsession. I have a different bible study almost every night of the week, I have joined the Special Friends program at GCC (Thanks to my friend Gianna,) and I found my calling to become a Speech and Language Pathologist to help give voice to those who do not have one. It has been though these experiences this year that I have pushed my faith to a limit I never thought possible before. This year has made me realize that I want to make a personal, physical, emotional, and verbal commitment to live each day for Christ. While I wasn’t ready my sophomore year when I first witnessed the baptisms, I know now that I am and that my relationship with Christ is where I want it to be. I believe that getting baptized and fully giving my life to God will further deepen my relationship with Him and continue to help me wash away the things in my life - my fear, my trust issues, and my self forgiveness - that have held me back for so long and will allow me to trust in Him completely. 

Photo by Leanna Vite - www.leannavite.com
Part of the SMiCpact family after service