May 6, 2010
Sophomore Ana Capellin (left) and Campus Catholic Minister Karen Hahn gather for mediation and spiritual reflection during an exam-week session sponsored by the Catholic Student Association at The College of Wooster.
WOOSTER, Ohio - It's just after 10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, and students at The College of Wooster are breathing a collective sigh of relief - finals are over for another day.
But a fresh round of exams will commence shortly after dawn, leaving the mentally exhausted with yet another intellectual challenge: "What to do for the next 10 hours?"
Pray? Now there's a novel idea. Unwind with a few minutes of thoughtful meditation and spiritual reflection (not to mention a request for divine intervention with tomorrow's organic chemistry test looming).
At Wooster, the Catholic Student Association (CSA) has provided just such a place where students of all denominations can gather, relax, and pray in a private room at Lowry Student Center.
For Ana Capellin, a sophomore archaeology major from Honduras, it's the perfect study break. "Exams have been rough," she says, just hours after surviving a Foundations of Physics test. "This helps reduce some of the stress." Capellin would have been there the night before, but she was too busy studying.
Karen Hahn, Catholic Campus Minister at Wooster, and several students came up with the idea a few years ago, and while the sessions have not attracted large numbers, they do have value. "Our hope is to give the students a break in the context of prayer," she says. "a chance to reconnect with God and to savor a moment of peace in all the craziness."
While previous prayer sessions have been rooted in the Christian tradition, Hahn and her students decided to offer the opportunity for prayer and reflection that could be shared among students of all faiths during this exam week. "We wanted to offer an opportunity for all people to come together in a spirit of prayer," she says. "We feel that by making it more inclusive, we could provide a place of refuge for everyone."
Zack Matesich, a junior chemistry major from Brownsville, Pa., and outgoing president of CSA, says part of the allure of these sessions is the opportunity to commiserate with fellow students and "talk about how finals are stressing you out."
Of course, there is always a temptation to pray for a successful outcome on each upcoming exam. "I do it all the time," says Capellin with a sheepish grin.
Hahn suggests that students embrace the familiar mantra, "Pray as if everything depended on God, but work as if everything depended on you."
The best news might be that the week is coming to an end and that students won't have to worry about finals again until December - Thank God!
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