NewNJamehPhoto“Some Sugar for Your Tea,” N’Jameh CamaraA recent Pew Research Center study found one-third of American adults under 30 years old to be religiously unaffiliated, which made me wonder, why do I practice Catholicism?

My Catholic roots are deep because I come from a strong Filipino Catholic family (my mom’s side). My grandparents accompanied me to church. My mom got me involved in the church choir, and despite the fact that my dad is Muslim, he sent my siblings and me to private, Catholic schools.

I always wanted to sleep in on Sunday mornings, but my mom made my siblings and me get up for the 10:30 Mass. Even when mom let us sleep in, we knew we’d be going to the noon Mass at Holy Hill.

Now, going to church doesn’t feel like an obligation. I realize I’m on a spiritual journey and choose to explore going to church.

I’ve continued to practice, even though I see that some of my friends aren’t religiously affiliated. So why, even with the questions I have regarding same-sex marriage and cohabitation, do I still go to church?

Despite these issues, I love the energy I feel when I come back from Chicago and pray with family and friends I haven’t seen in a while. I appreciate the collective singing meditations like the responsorial psalm, and that we gather around a table, the altar, to celebrate a meal that is the Eucharist.

Sharing a meal in church is a symbol that stretches beyond its walls and into the homes of many. Food brings people together, especially at my house. Some of my family’s most interesting conversations happen over food. Choosing to participate in the organized tradition of the Eucharist brings about a very human activity.

I am fascinated with and want to find a deeper understanding of the mysteries of the church – the Holy Trinity, angels, saints and transubstantiation.

I can pray in my own way at home or in the car, but I have experienced some humbling moments when praying among a collective body, and I hope those moments continue. During Mass, I think about my connectedness to the people around me as well as my relation to God.

Singing meditations makes me feel elated. If I could, I would only sing my prayers. I think about their words and how they resonate with me in terms of what I am trying to say to God. I’m genuinely interested in how priests deliver their homily after proclaiming the Gospel, and I think about what theological or philosophical insight I can gain from it.

Catholicism has given me a foundation and framework for my life. Religion is complicated, and my answer as to why I belong to organized religion is not complete. I go to church because I want to keep exploring faith as a part of my spiritual journey.

(Camara is majoring in theater performance, and minoring in communications at Loyola University in Chicago. Her home parish is Our Lady of Good Hope, Milwaukee. Email her at