by Kathryn Lieder
“We all want our stories to be ‘up’ stories, stories that go somewhere, stories that mean something,” dating and relationship expert Kerry Cronin told the masses of students that packed Robsham theater during the opening Agape Latte “Beanpot” event, which began with a performance by the BC band “Juice,” as part of C21’s Espresso your Faith week.
Aside from her overwhelming popularity and recognition for her annual talk in February on the importance of “old-fashioned” dating in a college environment that is dominated by the presence of “hook up” culture, Cronin is also the Associate Director of the Lonergan Institute, a Philosophy Department Fellow, and a renowned professor in the Perspectives Program. She clarified that she wanted this talk to be different, choosing to turn the focus inward, asking the audience to reflect on their own stories to remind themselves of the power and courage they hold within.
She admits with a laugh that, contrary to how students might wish, love stories at BC are more like “novellas ... more like poems or haikus [or even] memes” than they are like great novels or romantic comedies.
Cronin shared that the many stories of love, heartache, strength, weakness and questioning that she has heard from her students over the years have made her realize that sometimes people need to hear their own stories told back to them in order to make sense of them.
She recounted a long list of snippets of these undeniably universal stories: “I remember when you told me… That you just couldn’t take the risk of looking like a fool… That it was so complicated because the person didn’t want to be seen with you in public… That you would rather spend the time with the ones who are treating you like shit than find someone who treats you well…”
Cronin told the heartfelt story of her great grandmother, Bridget Cronin, who left her family in Kilduff, Ireland at the age of 20 to come to America to go to Smith College, not as a student, but rather as a maid. As Bridget celebrated the new opportunities that awaited her on the other side of the ocean, surrounded by family and friends during her last night in their three room cottage, she probably thought of her small brown suitcase and asked herself if she had what she needed for the brave endeavor she was about to face.
“But I assure you,” Cronin shared, “she had every single thing she needed and none of it was in that suitcase and all of it was already inside her…the faith, support, and love of her family, the courage to go out and find what the world had in store for her, the belief that her life had purpose, and faith in God who would draw her ever closer to herself.”
“I wonder if you know that you have everything you need in here?” Cronin said to the audience as she pointed to her heart, “[Bridget Cronin] had a heart that was full of hope and desire and courage and there is no app for that.”
She ended by asking students once again to turn inward and reflect: “So what if you could ask deeper questions….what if you could say something truer… what if you could know your desires more closely, what if you could love more selflessly, what if…”.