Hello Newmanites! My name is Anita Sivabalan and I am proud alum of the Newman community (I still believe that I am a member!). I graduated in May 2014 from McGill University with a Bachelor’s of Arts and specialization in Political Science. In my first year at McGill, I was wondering whether there was a chapel or Catholic centre on campus where I can celebrate mass. That’s when I discovered McGill Newman Centre. I remember that my first visit was the Ash Wednesday mass. The first thing that attracted me to this community was the warmth that the students showed me. A few of them came up to me and said hello. The priest also welcomed me to the Centre. This hospitality and loving welcome is what made me come back again. And again. The Centre became a haven where I could put away all my worries of school work and living away from home and take comfort in the love and support of fellow Newmanites. By my third year, I was really involved at Newman as a lector for masses and a participant in the Faith Studies series. I wanted to give back to the community who had given me so much love and support during my time at McGill.
It is in this self-giving love from students and members of the community that I saw the beauty of our Catholic faith for the first time. I realized that they are living out their faith as followers of Jesus Christ by doing the one thing He asked us to do: love one another. Each and every single person I met at Newman inspired me to draw closer to God and develop a loving relationship with Him. In the discussions I had over Soup and Bagels or Saturday Night Suppers at Newman, I began to learn more and more about Christianity. The intellectual and spiritual conversations that I had with them sparked my curiosity to dig deeper and ask the important questions of my faith.
I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Toronto. There are many days when I recall my treasured memories at the Newman Centre. I really miss all the friends I made there- friends I will never forget because they changed my perspective on life. I miss the ability to come over on Saturday nights for SNS or just study in the hall with fellow Newmanites over a hot cup of tea. Although I cannot gain those experiences back, it comforts me to know that the Newman Centre’s door is always open and I can visit everyone again. More importantly, I believe I am called by God to go out and apply the knowledge I gained from my experiences at Newman in my everyday duties and interactions with other people. I am called to serve and give the same love that Newman members showed me that Ash Wednesday four years ago.