On Friday Oct. 27, the Society of Saints Peter and Paul hosted Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar Aurora Griffin, author of “How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard,” for a lecture of the same name in the Dinand Levis Browsing Room. Griffin, who graduated from Harvard University in 2014 and went on to study philosophy and theology as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, is a devout Catholic and recalled the challenges and rewards of keeping her faith at a modern secular university.
Griffin’s visit to Holy Cross marked her first visit to a Catholic college. Noting that there is “lots of uncertainty” about Catholicism at Catholic and secular institutions alike, Griffin suggested that her greatest successes in life have been a result of her Catholic faith. “If you can be Catholic at Harvard, you can be Catholic anywhere,” she said. Griffin, a Classics major at Harvard, served as the president of the Catholic Student Association during her undergraduate years.
“Our advisor, Father John Gavin, brought Aurora’s book ‘How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard’ to our attention. When selecting our two big talks for the fall semester, he and our board thought it would be a valuable opportunity to hear about her experience of faith in a more secular setting. It offered a pastoral approach and more personal commentary, as opposed to the more intellectually-based lecture by R.R. Reno earlier this semester,” said Melissa Gryan ‘18, co-chair of the Society of Saints Peter and Paul.
In May 2014, Griffin played a crucial role in preventing satanic groups from holding a black mass on the Harvard campus, earning her a place in the national spotlight. Citing the incident as a formative rewarding experience, Griffin claimed that her college years marked the first time she felt she was responsible for her own beliefs. As a result of her leadership against the Satanists, she noted “all different brands of Catholics came together to protect the Eucharist” for what she saw as a “beautiful, triumphant moment.”
Griffin concluded her talk by imploring audience members to find new ways to improve their faith: “We are all called to be saints,” she said. After a brief question and answer session following the talk, Griffin signed books and answered questions from individual students, parents, and faculty members.
Griffin’s 2016 novel, “How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard: 40 Tips for Faithful College Students,” is available from Ignatius Press. The Society of Saints Peter and Paul will host Dawn Eden, author of “Thrill of the Chaste and Remembering God’s Mercy: Redeem the Past and Free Yourself from Painful Memories” in the spring semester. In the meantime, the Society meets every Wednesday in the Williams Hall social space for food and a guest speaker. Students interested in the Society of Saints Peter and Paul can can send an email to email@example.com.
photo from National Review