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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

It's easier to keep the faith after finding the religion that's right for you

After more than a decade of working with students at UF, Rabbi Berl Goldman said he’s seen students who were reluctant about religion in high school taking new initiative in college and growing to new depths.

“It’s an interesting phenomenon,” said Goldman, the executive director of the Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center. “When they come to college, they want to connect on their own terms with their faith. They’re actually choosing to on their own terms with their peers, their friends. It’s encouraging to see those choices being made.”

Paul Gulig, the faculty advisor for UF student organization Catholic Gators, suggested students who come to college with a strong affiliation look for the campus organization that coordinates with their denomination.

“I think one of the first things [students] should do is find and get connected with the appropriate congregation, parish... mosque,” he said.

For students who are exploring or seeking out stronger belief, he suggested remaining open-minded and positive.

“It’s very common for a lot of students when they go away to college to exercise their independence,” he said. “Do some soul searching. Get connected on the positive side, and see if there’s something there and if it’s something you want to continue working on.”

Katie Doran, a 22-year-old UF alumna who recently graduated with degrees in journalism and marketing, said finding the balance between involvement in campus ministries and church was key for her.

“I would... recommend not letting campus ministries be your only outlet for your faith,” she said.

She said getting plugged into a local church helped her connect with a variety of people from different backgrounds and with different levels of life experience. Campus provided a forum for connecting with peers.

“Church was a being-built-and-growing experience,” she said. “Campus is more of a community thing.”

This story originally ran on page 10 on 8/14/2013 under the headline "Keeping the faith in college can be tough, but possible at UF"

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