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Fiat, new group rooted in the Marian virtues, invites Saint Mary’s students into conversation, fellowship

| Friday, January 31, 2020

Saint Mary’s students will gather Thursday at 7:30 in the Sacred Heart Chapel in Holy Cross Hall for personal reflection and small-group discussions.

Fiat, a Latin word that translates to “so be it” and references “Mary’s yes,” is the name of a new student group on campus started by seniors Amanda Fischer, Claire Conlon and Kathy Stalter and junior Alex Guevara-Stevens.

Liz Palmer, the assistant director of campus ministry, said Fiat was created because these students felt there was “a need to have community life and to foster prayer life on campus.”

“They specifically promote the Marian virtues on campus … they thought that Fiat would be a great way to integrate Mary into the lives of our students,” Palmer said.

Palmer said that while Fiat has been sponsored by Campus Ministry, the students lead in organizing and hosting monthly spiritual events that “are a way for someone to give their story about the intersection of faith and life.”

At each event, someone is invited to share a personal reflection on one of the Marian virtues and elaborate on how they feel it relates to their life and the broader community. Students then spend time in small groups reflecting on the talk and discussing how it relates to other parts of their lives.

While considering the amount of interest that has been generated so far, Palmer said much of the group’s success is due to the way student leaders have approached members of the campus community.

“Something I have been reminded of through the Fiat group is the power of invitation,” she said. “Our Fiat leaders have been doing door-to-door outreach.”

The inclusive aspect of this group, which is open to people of all faith backgrounds, is essential to the environment that the members want to achieve.

“I love that it offers a personal relationship with God in a communal context,” Palmer said. “As a campus minister, I constantly see the need for community among our students, so that’s my favorite thing about the events, that they are fostering that community.”

Fischer, one of the student leaders of Fiat, said she is really excited about what she describes as a “student-led, intentional faith-based community.” During the group‘s monthly “signature” events, participants hear from speakers that talk about the Marian virtue for the month, then engage in small group time and fellowship.

She went on to underline Fiat’s goal.

“It is so simple, but that is exactly what Jesus did — He built a culture of encounter in a simple way, and that is our aim,” she said.

This Friday, members of Fiat will be joined by Beth Hlabse. Hlabse is a mental health counseling intern at Holy Cross College and a research project manager at the Kellogg Institute at Notre Dame, and is currently completing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with Divine Mercy University. In her talk, Hlabse will focus on the virtue of “constant mental prayer.”

“So many of us don’t really know what prayer is or how to pray,” Hlabse said. “We don’t realize that prayer is the way we live in relationship with God … [and] the way we receive God’s love.”

In looking at prayer through this different perspective, Hlabse found parallels with techniques she uses in her profession.

“Many of us … fall into patterns of negative and destructive interior dialogue, or ‘self-talk,’” she said.

These unhealthy tendencies can be addressed in different ways, Hlabse said, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which assists people in recognizing unproductive thinking and particular stressors or misconceptions that might be causing it. The next step is then to reframe interior dialogue in a more realistic, constructive and positive way, she said.

Hlabse will demonstrate “this process of tuning into and reframing our thinking is an opportunity for prayer” in her personal witness talk on Friday.

“We can invite God into our headspace and consider how an all-loving God might be asking us to change the way we talk to and view ourselves,” she said.

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