On Tuesday, April 14th, the Church in the 21st Century Center hosted its final event of the spring semester: pizza and conversation with Professor of Philosophy Mary Troxell. Entitled “#Faith #Family #Future,” the talk attracted a variety of members from the Boston College community, including dozens of students, parents, and faculty members. Troxell’s presentation focused on how young people think about “family, relationships, marriage, and the future” in relation to their faith. A beloved professor in the PULSE program, Troxell also teaches a senior Capstone course, “Seeing, Loving, Serving,” and has served as a faculty speaker on student retreats such as Halftime and 48 Hours.
Troxell started her talk by addressing a common worry among BC students, particularly graduating seniors: “How does one move towards the commitment of marriage and family?” Although many students silently grapple with this question, it is often an uncomfortable topic to discuss with one’s peers. To gain insight into this anxiety, Troxell turned to anonymously submitted student statements on “what it means to be a family of faith.” Published in the latest issue of C21 Resources, these anonymous statements are honest, vulnerable, and insightful.
A major concern that was brought up by students was the stigma that comes with being a stay-at-home parent. One student wrote that she would want to be a stay-at-home mom, but would not wish to give up her career, “something that I've worked for my entire life to achieve.” Another topic raised was the challenge of multi-faith marriages. One student reflected, “I would be very open to meeting someone that was not Catholic, but I would never want to lose my Catholic identity. I’ve always pictured myself getting married in the Catholic Church, and I don’t know if I would be able to let go of that aspiration.”
To address these concerns, Troxell turned to philosophy and Church teaching. She emphasized the teachings of social justice and acceptance within Christianity, topics ranging from equal pay for women to helping the poorest of the poor. Although today’s culture is challenging for Catholics to navigate at times, one should not give up hope.
Troxell also emphasized the importance of finding a faith community after graduation, a spiritual home to share one’s faith with friends. For current students, she recommended exploring some of the many theology and philosophy courses BC has to offer. Abigail Young, A&S’17, is currently exploring her Catholic heritage through such courses: “In Father Marchese’s class on relationships this semester, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the countless ways that faith has influenced both my values of family and my plans for the future.” Liza Magill, A&S’17, had similar thoughts: “BC’s Jesuit tradition has opened my mind to the intersection of faith and culture…. as we grow older, we will be able to make our own decisions about faith, rather than just following our families or the way we were raised.”
The incredible student turnout to “#Faith #Family #Future” is a testament to the maturity of the student body, as well as the level of interest in topics of discernment. Seemingly a counterpart to Professor Kerry Cronin’s annual dating talk, Troxell’s presentation offered tangible advice on how to live the “good life” and find happiness, especially as one prepares to graduate from the safety of the BC bubble.