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 | By Blake Schuman

Cultivating presence and purpose when heading back to school

As the summer draws to a close, the anticipation of a new school year fills the air. Book bags are packed, pencils are sharpened and schedules are finalized. But amid the hustle of heading back to school preparations, it is essential for students, young and old alike, to remember the importance of having a life centered on God.

I find it imperative as a seminarian dedicated to deepening my spiritual journey to shed light on the significance of embracing God’s guidance in our academic pursuits. Prioritizing our relationship with God can transform our approach to education and ultimately enrich our lives.

Seeking divine wisdom

As students, we often encounter various challenges, whether academic or personal. Navigating the complexities of coursework, peer pressure and the pursuit of self-identity feels overwhelming. However, when we make a conscious effort to put God first, we gain access to an unfathomable source of wisdom and guidance. We seek divine wisdom through prayer, meditation and reflection on Scripture. By doing so, we invite God’s light to illuminate our path, where he provides clarity and discernment in our decision making. Then, we can confidently face academic hurdles knowing that we are not alone in our journey.

Building a solid foundation

Education is not merely about acquiring knowledge. It is about building a solid foundation upon which we construct a meaningful life. As students, we often focus on our intellectual development, striving for good grades and academic achievements. While these pursuits are essential, they must be accompanied by a strong moral compass and a nurtured spiritual life. Grounding ourselves in God’s teachings and principles lays the groundwork for a life of compassion, integrity and service. We develop into well-rounded individuals capable of making a positive impact in the world when we approach our studies with the intention of growing not only intellectually but also spiritually.

Finding purpose

One of the most significant advantages of having our lives centered around Christ and the Eucharist is the discovery of our true purpose. We students often find ourselves grappling with questions about the future, what career path to pursue or how to make a difference in the world. Through the sacraments, prayer and discernment, we align ourselves with God’s plan for our lives. We open ourselves to a divine purpose, which surpasses our own limited understanding, when we surrender to God’s guidance. Embracing his plan in surrender brings a sense of fulfillment and direction that transcends the pursuit of the world’s definition of success. It allows us to make choices that align with our true calling and our faith, ultimately leading to a meaning and purpose.

Cultivating holistic growth

Education should not be limited to the classroom. It must encompass the entire development of an individual. While academic excellence is vital, nurturing our spiritual, emotional and social well-being is equally crucial and holistic. Students are called to cultivate a balanced life, where the Lord is at the center of every facet. If we participate in religious activities, join faith-based communities and engage in acts of service, we foster that holistic growth that extends beyond ourselves. An approach like this enables us to become compassionate and empathetic individuals who positively influence those around us and our communities.

To the Class of 2024

So, now we embark on another academic year. Let’s remember the profound impact of having our lives based on a God who willed a universe into existence. By seeking divine wisdom, building a solid foundation, finding purpose and cultivating holistic growth, we transform our educational journeys into opportunities for spiritual growth, self-discovery and bettering the world around us.

Whether we are students, teachers or parents, we all have a role to play in nurturing a life centered around God. I encourage every student to prioritize their relationship with the Lord, allowing his presence to guide them through the joys and challenges of their academic endeavors. As a seminarian for our great diocese, I stand with you in prayer and solidarity, confident that with God as the compass of our lives, we will not only excel academically but also cultivate a profound sense of purpose, joy and fulfillment that transcends the boundaries of the classroom.

May God’s grace accompany you throughout this year, and may your journey be blessed with Christ Jesus’ unwavering love and guidance. Together, let’s embrace the back-to-school season as an opportunity to deepen our faith, enrich our minds and impact the world for the greater glory of the Lord.

Blake Schuman is a seminarian for the Diocese of Charleston heading to fourth year college this fall at St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami, Florida. His home parish is Divine Redeemer Church in Hanahan. Email him at