In January 2009, agonizing pain confined Tim Rooney to his bed for a week, the result of surgery for Crohn’s disease that removed three feet of his small intestine. The disease led the Cabrini College student to question his faith, wondering if God had abandoned him.
“I was always tired, always in pain,” Rooney says. “My sickness made me struggle and doubt my faith.”
He may not have known it at the time, but Rooney’s spiritual crisis – which came to a head while he was bedridden – was the first step in his journey to reconnecting with his Catholic faith more strongly than ever.
Upon Rooney’s return to Cabrini in the fall of 2009, his father suggested he get involved with the College’s Campus Ministry office.
That year, the world opened up to Rooney – in part because of the College’s global opportunities, in part because of camaraderie with fellow students – and the doubt that had crept into Rooney’s life was replaced with a sense of purpose.
The Cinnaminson, N.J., native immersed himself in campus activities, serving as a resident assistant and a writing center tutor, and as a member of the Community Service Outreach Club. Service immersion trips to the Appalachia region of West Virginia and to Ecuador opened his eyes to what he calls “the larger picture around the world.”
“The service trips to Appalachia and Ecuador were amazing experiences,” says Rooney. “I learned a lot about myself and about how to be a better person.”
Rooney found it deeply rewarding to give back to the community – through service trips, working with the Norristown Police Athletic League, or by mentoring other Cabrini students. As a Peer Minister and a Search Retreat leader, he helped students with their own personal struggles.
“My experiences in Campus Ministry … have helped me see the importance and value of this work, and assures me that such work has a purpose,” says Rooney.
“Hearing from students about the difference I’ve helped make in their lives has made everything I’ve done over the past four years completely worth it.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English on May 20, Rooney will serve for a year in California with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, either as a youth ministry coordinator in Sacramento, or a high school guidance counselor in Los Angeles, depending on the placement.
Whatever his future plans hold, Rooney knows that his experiences at Cabrini have not only helped him to reconnect with his faith, but also have helped to lay the foundation of a lifetime of giving back.
“One of the things I’ve found is that, if I hadn’t been sick, I wouldn’t be as appreciative of a lot of the things I now have,” Rooney says.
“I don’t think I would have the same outlook on life that I now have. In serving other people, I’ve found a way to put my own faith into action. It helps me feel like I’m working on a mission.”
by Daniel DiPrinzio