ERIK GUIREMAND '10 - TESTIMONY
During my time at Oregon State I was fortunate enough to experience two powerful and complementary influences that have greatly shaped the man that I have become. The first (and most important) was the experience of developing a deep personal relationship with Christ for the first time in my life. This was brought about through the Newman Center and going on the Fragua retreat during my Freshman year. At the same time, I was already preparing for my future career as a Naval Officer in the NROTC program. As a result of being a part of both communities I developed deep friendships, purpose, and joy, all while setting myself up for life after college. Yet, two of the most critical developments that occurred during my time at Oregon State involved compassion and discipline.
Good order and discipline is at the core of what makes the military successful. My time in NROTC helped to make me a more disciplined student, midshipman, and Catholic. I always saw the importance to discipline in the military, but through my experience with the Saint John Society, I quickly realized that discipline was crucial in cultivating a fruitful faith life. It is easy to pray when all of your friends are doing it, when things in life are going well, and when you have a lot of spare time. However, when you are deployed and working 14+ hour days, or you have three kids that are constantly demanding your attention; faith becomes a choice that requires discipline to keep it strong during the seasons of life that don’t have the free time, frequent faith community events, or strong feelings of connection to God. Just as Jesus required discipline to overcome the temptations of the devil during his 40 days in the desert, I needed discipline to overcome seasons of mediocrity in my faith.
Equally important to discipline is compassion. During my time at the Newman Center I met people from all different walks of life and different places in their faith journey. In my interactions with all of them, compassion (overwhelmingly) was the most important quality in bringing them closer to God and into Catholic community. Putting my judgements aside and seeing that every person (regardless of their beliefs or past) is a child of God that Jesus died for had a profound impact on my outlook on life. Consequently, my opinion of a what makes a good naval officer shifted a great deal. Discipline, maintaining standards, and firm leadership are certainly important, but having compassion for the people that you work with is what develops a culture of success and builds an environment where everyone wants to work at the highest level out of love and respect for each other.
My life has been full of grace and blessings. I married the love of my life and a strong Catholic (who I met at the Newman Center). We have three beautiful daughters and another child on the way. It takes a great deal of discipline to coordinate the lives of three little kids, but it also takes compassion to love them in the moments where everyone is crying or fighting. It takes discipline and compassion to make time for my wife after the kids go to sleep or to help with the chores after working a full day. It takes discipline to make prayers a part of every day of my children’s lives, and compassion to stay calm as they lick my face when I teach them to say the Our Father. Discipline has helped me to keep up my faith during the chaos, and striving to consistently show Christ-like compassion has been at the forefront of living a life of faith that I hope will inspire others to hear the call of Christ in my family and beyond.