Natalie Morbeth remembered how her faith was challenged this year.
“In May, my house burned down,” said Ms. Morbeth, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Spring Valley and a student at Rockland Community College. “I am lucky to be alive because I was sleeping when my house burned down. At first, I lost myself, but then I started going to church again and started teaching CCD again. This is my faith. I’m going to keep going in what I need to do.”
Ms. Morbeth, who made her remarks in an interview with CNY, was one of nearly 200 young adults who participated in “An Evening with Cardinal Dolan: Exploring Mission and Purpose in Christ” at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park Nov. 2.
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Byrne led evening prayer before Cardinal Dolan delivered a 30-minute talk and then answered questions from young adults.
Cardinal Dolan spoke about the challenge of keeping one’s faith when faced with evil or other obstacles. Marist College, Vassar College, SUNY New Paltz, Rockland Community College, Mount St. Mary and the Culinary Institute of America were among the colleges and groups represented at the event, which was sponsored by the archdiocese’s University Apostolate.
The timely exchange came two days after the terrorist attack in lower Manhattan in which eight people were killed and 11 others were injured. The cardinal said it’s not wrong for a believer to struggle figuring out why God allows evil and suffering in the world, and that Satan is alive and active as the second strongest power in the universe.
While evil does exist, God has equipped each of us with the ability to exercise our free will, as well as with the promise and hope of everlasting life, Cardinal Dolan said.
Marist students Kelly Boonie and Mary Haynos, who both recalled a point when they questioned their faith, said they enjoyed Cardinal Dolan’s talk.
“He spoke really well, and I was engaged the whole entire time,” said Ms. Haynos, a parishioner of St. Kilian in Farmingdale in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. “It was relatable to stuff I went through in high school when I questioned my faith a lot since my little cousin who was 7 passed away. It was very touching to hear him reinforcing the beliefs.”
Ms. Boonie and Ms. Haynos both acknowledged the importance of religious faith.
“If you form a friendship through your faith, you never lose that friendship,” said Ms. Boonie, a parishioner of St. Denis in Hopewell Junction.
Ms. Haynos added, “You always have that connection which is your faith.”
Jerry Legros, a parishioner of St. Joseph in Spring Valley and a student at Rockland Community College, said he found Cardinal Dolan’s topic timely and relatable to the young adults.
“It’s definitely difficult for youth to relate their faith to other youths,” Legros said. “It’s dying down when it comes to youth practicing the Catholic religion. It’s important to try to keep your faith every day, to try to stay strong in your faith.’’
Elizabeth Lococo, a junior at SUNY New Paltz from Rhinebeck, said the cardinal’s talk was inspiring. She also feels fortunate to belong to the campus ministry at college.
“I’m lucky to have a strong campus ministry at our school,’’ said Ms. Lococo, who attends Mass at St. Joseph in New Paltz and Good Shepherd in Rhinebeck.
“So, I have a group of people who are as involved as I am. My friends who aren’t Catholic can see what we do because we have events on campus and we go on a mission trip every year. They see the good work we do.”
Following his talk, Cardinal Dolan answered questions the students had written on index cards beforehand.
Richard Georges, a native of Haiti and a student at Rockland Community College, was thrilled when Cardinal Dolan answered his question, “What gets you out of bed every morning?”
“The perspective he gave me is even when you’re not hungry or energetic, you’ve got to be grateful to be alive and let that be the motivation to push you forward,” Georges said.