Aurora Griffin – 2018 Summit speaker
Harvard grad-author reveals how to safeguard faith in college
Aurora Griffin, 26, is living proof that faith and reason go together.
Griffin graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in classics from Harvard University in 2014. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, where she received a graduate degree in theology.
While at Harvard, Griffin served as president of the Catholic Student Association. In May 2014, she took on a leadership role in responding to a Harvard student group’s plans to sponsor a sacrilegious black mass on campus, which was subsequently canceled.
Today, Griffin is a writer on staff at the Catholic University of America. In 2016, she wrote the book, How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard: Forty Faithful Tips for College Students. She will be discussing her book as a featured speaker at the 2018 Legatus Summit. She recently spoke with Legatus Magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.
What will be the focus of your talk at the Summit?
I’ll be talking about how I kept my faith at a secular university and some of the things that helped me stay Catholic there, and to give encouragement to students and to parents.
How did you keep your faith at Harvard?
It was a matter of deliberately moving forward on four fronts. First was cultivating community. Second was maintaining an active prayer life. Third was integrating my faith with my academics and intellectual life. And fourth was living out the faith in other ways, like getting involved in community service. In order to really have a flourishing Catholic life at a secular university, you have to be doing it with other people and you have to be living it out on a number of fronts.
What can Catholic parents do to equip and support their children for when they leave home and go off to college?
It’s simple but not easy to do; the best thing parents can do is to try to live the faith themselves. Once you get to the point of college, people have to make the decision for themselves. You can’t make somebody choose Christ. What you have to do is live the faith in an attractive, authentic way, and hope your example is something that your children find compelling and will follow.
Why do young adults often leave the Catholic faith when they go to college?
I think what happens is people feel isolated. If they don’t have a Catholic community, they start to worry that they have to make compromises, either morally or intellectually, or they feel they have to hide their faith in order to have friends. The solution to that is getting plugged into a good community as soon as you can. Also, some people get into their first philosophy class and say, “Oh my gosh, how do I know that all these things I learned are real?” Fortunately, the Church has a magnificent intellectual tradition to draw upon.
What effect did the black mass controversy have on you and the Catholic community at Harvard?
The most striking thing about it for me was that a handful of people with harmful intentions came together to do something offensive to the Catholic faith, and the result was thousands of people around the world praying for each other, thousands of people walking through the streets of Boston adoring the Eucharist, and then hundreds of people coming together at the Church of St. Paul in Harvard Square to fight the black mass. It was a moment of intense solidarity.
What prompted you to write your book?
The idea came to me on Easter Sunday in 2015. I wrote it in the days between Easter and Pentecost. There was little hesitation. For me it was just very clear that this was not something that was for me, but this was something God wanted to do through me, and I was privileged to take part in it.