While attending high school in Mason City, Iowa, Grace Henrich (’23) was involved in youth ministry and grew to enjoy the community that grew out of it. When it came to college, she was looking for a similar community.
She found it at Loras.
“My faith definitely played a role in getting me here but I wasn’t necessarily adamant about going to a Catholic college,” she said. “Being here with access to going to mass every day and having a personal relationship with the priest, having a community of people that helped me learn about the faith. I could already sense the community that was here and I just felt welcomed right from the get-go. There have been so many people and opportunities that have helped me to know God and myself better.”
Henrich was selected as a Breitbach scholar and arrived on campus knowing she would have fourteen other students to relate to when she arrived. That experience has continued to challenge her in different ways that she feels has only benefited her.
“The program has made me think deeper about the ideals I had when I arrived. Thinking intellectually about faith allows me to have conversations with those who think differently. Overall, it has provided a good community and allowed me to see things in a different way than I had before,” she said.
In addition to the Breitbach program, Henrich has found a groove through the Spiritual Life office on campus. She has served as Antioch director, is involved in mass ministries, studied with Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionaries, and created a video on the importance of interfaith.
She has also channeled her faith into her studies. A media studies and public relations double major with a double minor in politics and Catholic studies, Henrich earned herself recognition from the Iowa College Media Association with an award for her experimental film, “Annunciation,” which is based on a poem about Mary and the Enunciation.
“It is about how impactful Mary’s ‘yes’ was and how we all have little yeses that impact our lives,” she explained.
As she looks at life after Loras, Henrich is confident that the skills she has developed through media studies have prepared her for whatever options may arise in the future.
What she knows for sure is that she will start by translating her experiences with FOCUS into her own mission. For the next two years, she will serve as a FOCUS missionary working on a college campus to assist other students who are looking to foster their own relationship with Christ.
“Getting involved in the various opportunities for fellowship and creating an environment of people who are like-minded in our interests—that was very impactful for me. I have been doing one-on-one discipleship with a missionary the past two years, which has helped me learn how to be a disciple and minister to others. They have been so good at creating an environment that is welcoming. They go above and beyond about being intentional in building personal relationships with students,” she said.
Reflecting on her time at Loras, Henrich stresses the importance of the connections she made with fellow students, faculty, and staff and how they indeed developed the community she was looking for in her college experience. “The very intentional relationship building that happens here, whether that be with professors, classmates, organizations—there is just so much of noticing the person who goes unnoticed and trying to help them feel welcomed. It is a small enough community that people can be intentional and build meaningful relationships. Those core relationships are what give you life and purpose,” she said.