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CSM Students Find Support From Each Other Through Blaze
Student Organizations

Over Christmas break, Rosario Chaclan, a junior at College of Saint Mary, talked with her mother about starting a Bible study group on campus. Her mother encouraged her to speak to Liz Ludvik, the former director of spirituality, service and social justice at CSM.

That’s how Rosario learned she wasn’t the only student considering such a project. Six students – Rosario, junior Kaitlin Smith, and sophomores Clare Dahlhoff, Jaidyn Vanschoiack, Jessica Tienda, and Carolyna Truong -- have founded Blaze, which offers a structured gathering opportunity for CSM students to meet and find support, belonging and hope from intentional time spent with Christian Scriptures for prayer and conversation with each other.

“We all had this common idea of a Bible study on campus that can be open to anyone who wants to come and be able to talk as women and relate in our faith,” Kaitlin said. “We can have a group that we can go to and feel safe and like you can talk about anything.”

Blaze held its first meeting on Jan. 29 and meets at 7 p.m. every other Monday in the Hillmer Art Gallery. Each meeting, which opens and closes with prayer, features a theme ranging from relationships and self-image to performance and trust. Bible verses that complement the themes are read. Around 20 students attended the first meeting.

Though CSM is known as a Catholic university, Blaze is inclusive of all faiths.

“We are a Catholic institution, but I think what’s even more important than that is that we all share a common ground. We love Jesus. We want Jesus in our life,” Kaitlin said. “Regardless of your religion, you still want a relationship with God. You hold the same values and morals at the end of the day.”

Even those who may not be religious are welcome, the students said.

“You can come to this place. If you just want to sit and listen, I think that’s beautiful, and if you want to interact, that’s also amazing. It’s a place where anyone is welcome,” Kaitlin said. “We feel like this could be such a strong community on campus.”